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Apartment building, damaged by fire, faces condemnation

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 4:23 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A large, old apartment house on William Street, extensively damaged by fire early Wednesday morning, will likely be condemned, city officials said Wednesday.

The fire at 121 William Street displaced at least seven people from their homes. The building housed eight apartments.

The call came in just before 7:30 a.m. The fire was a frightening sight for people in and near the building.

“I happened to look out my window and all I see is a big cloud of white smoke coming from next door,” said Keon Martin, who lives next door to 121.

“My girlfriend was panicking and I told her we just have to make sure we get out the house, grab the dog, grab our child and after that we just worry about everything later,” he said.

Flames and smoke were billowing from the right and back sides of the building when firefighters arrived and residents and their pets were fleeing as quickly as they could.

Crews were able to knock the fire down quickly, but there is still extensive damage to several different parts of the structure. Flames extended into the attic.

“There is a section of the building that is definitely not going to be inhabited again,” Watertown Battalion Chief Andrew Denney said.

State and local fire investigators, and Watertown city police, looked through what was left standing Wednesday, trying to figure out what caused the fire.

This isn’t the first time crews have been called to the building, owned by Meira Shapiro, a developer from New York City, for a fire investigation. An incident occurred back in August where a couch was set on fire inside one of the units.

There was a suspect in the August incident, but he was never charged, police said.

A spokesman for city police could not confirm whether the August incident and Wednesday’s fire were related.

A disaster relief team from the Red Cross was on scene Wednesday afternoon to assist people who lived in 121 William Street.

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