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Fire at Central Warehouse

central warhouse fire 1

A landmark. Not the prettiest one. But recognizable.

Update Saturday at 12:25 pm

Officials say the fire could burn for three days, maybe longer. [TU]

The Albany Fire Department has decided the building is too dangerous to enter and is focused on containing the fire. [Fox23]

A building very similar to Central Warehouse caught fire in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1999. Six firefighters died in that fire. The upper floors of the building collapsed. [Wikipedia] [Firefighter Nation]

Sebastien has posted a photoset from near the base of building Friday afternoon. We've added a few of the photos after the jump.


Last update: 6:54 pm

There are a bunch of reports coming in via Twitter of a fire at Central Warehouse in Albany. It's the huge, white building just north of downtown -- you can't miss it as you drive along 787.

The photo above is from @LukeGucker. There are more photos after the jump from Luke -- and we've also added some some impressive shots taken by Michael Walsh from across the river in Rensselaer.

We got a report via Bath-on-Hudson Beth that flames were "shooting out" of the building. Lori reports that there's a "terrible" smell in the area near the fire ("awful" is how Amy described the odor).

Sebastien reports from the scene that firefighters are concerned about a collapse. He also reports they're running out of water.

The TU reports that it's unclear whether the building's old refrigeration system still contains ammonia. The type of ammonia used in refrigeration systems is potentially explosive. [TU] [OSHA]

Update via Sebastien's Twitter feed at 5:56 pm: "Fire fell from higher level, now huge fire at bottom. Firefighter says will be there for couple of days, will have to tear down ultimately."

Here's a photoset from the fire, posted by Andrew.


Sebastien, B and others explored the building in 2009 -- the resulting photosets are a bit haunting and oddly beautiful.

Central Warehouse is an old cold storage building that once held frozen foods. Steve shared some of the building's history in a comment last year.

The building has changed hands twice this decade. In 2002 a company called Albany Assets bought it for $800k. And then in 2007 it was sold for $1.4 million to a group called CW Montgomery LLC, which apparently planned to eventually redevelop the building into some sort of mixed-use project. [TU via Highbeam] [TU]

Of the Central Warehouse Jerry Jennings said in 2008: That's one of the biggest eyesores I have here." Demolition of the building reportedly would cost $1.5 million. [TU]

(Thanks to Luke, Michael and Sebastien for sharing the pics, and everyone for all the tips.)

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Here's Luke's photoset from the scene.

Sebastien took these photos from near the base of the building:

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central warehouse fire sebastien3

central warehouse fire sebastien1

Here's Sebastien's full photoset from the fire.

Michael Walsh took these photos from across the river in Rensselaer. Be sure to scroll up to the top of this page to see one of his shots in large format (the rest of these are clickable for large format).

central warehouse fire walsh4

central warehouse fire walsh3

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Here's Mike's Flickr stream.

first four photos: Luke Gucker
photos from building's base: Sebastien B
large format photo at top, last three photos: Michael Walsh

Find It

Central Warehouse
Colonie St and Montgomery St
Albany, NY 12207


Got caught in the snarl on 787 because of this fire. Who wants to bet its arson for insurance?

My roommate votes for accidental fire caused by homeless.

Someone just did the current owners a huge favor...

I hope all of the firefighters and other personnel are safe, it's not a friendly building even when it's not on fire.

Drove by that on the way home. I wonder if there's still asbestos in that building, because if it has to be torn down, they're going to need to do it carefully or there's going to be a lot of claims of asbestosis throughout the neighborhood...

The smoke coming out of Central Warehouse IS TOO DAMN HIGH!!

When I was little, there was a small shop in the Warehouse that was still open to the public and sold restaurant packs of frozen chicken breasts. We're talking the early 80s, probably just before Gerrity put up his infamous "Year of the Bible" sign which I remember vividly.

My aunt used to take me there to buy the frozen chicken for home use...and it was very good. The shop itself was quite tiny...just a small room full of freezers and white tiles on the first floor. But going there...the narrow streets, the dark spooky rail bridges, the ominous old buildings itself...always seemed quite an adventure for me.

The last time I saw the Warehouse up close was a year ago. My partner and I had a business appointment about a block away on North Ferry. Our client was late so I took the chance to explore the back of the Warehouse and get a photo of the train tracks extending from the second floor.


We didn't get too close, though. It was a windy day and, right after I took my photo, chunks of plaster began to shower down from the crumbling walls.

Thank you for only stating that reports were coming in from Twitter and not posting all of them... that would have encouraged these people, who were probably driving while they did it, to continue doing that.

I drove past on the Southbound side just before 6PM and not only was it smokey, I could feel the heat inside my car as I went by. I hope anyone who might have been in there got out safely.

I doubt the owners are going to consider this a favor. The insurance should help, but now they have to tear the place down.

I wouldn't worry too much about the asbestos. I'm sure most of the concrete in the building does have asbestos, as does all the pipe insulation, and probably flour tiling.

That said. it should be relatively easy to control upon demolition of the building -- basically they will wet down areas that are being demolished to keep the dust from flying around, and ensure everybody on site is equipped with respirators. They will have dust monitors across the area and if excessive dust is kicked upon demolition, all work will cease.

Third, asbestos contamination is open air situations is rarely a problem. Chances are any asbestos released -- under controlled and wet demolition -- will be far below background and/or permitted levels.

RIP Central Warehouse :(

Very sad indeed.

Michael Walsh, these photos from across the river in Rensselaer are fantastic. Beautiful. The sunset completely makes it. Do you have more online?

Wow...that top photo, the sunset one from across the river is breathtakingly beautiful!

@ -S Thanks for the positive feedback! I just created a flickr account with some of my photos.

If I recall the refrigeration system was an old one using ammonia. I hope they removed it when they shut the plant down.

I'll chime in on the leading photo, great work Mike.

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