CLAY, NY – A state trooper broke down the door of an apartment building in Clay and half a dozen officers rushed inside to alert residents to a fire Monday afternoon.

State Police and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputies found residents still inside the smoky building at 4320 Arlington Circle.

Teagan Dow, 20, who lives in a first-floor flat at the opposite end of the same building where the fire said she could smell something burning but thought it was someone cooking.

“I didn’t realize anything was happening until (a police officer) knocked on my door and said, ‘Everyone out,'” Dow said.

After she got out, Dow said she then realized another apartment in her building was on fire.

A Grubhub driver delivering food to the nearby Super 8 Motel on Oswego Road (Route 57) looked over a fence at 4 p.m. and saw black smoke and glass breaking from a window of the Breckenridge Apartments, said Cavalier John Moretti III. The driver immediately called 911 to report the fire, the officer said.

When police arrived at the apartment complex, they could see flames and thick black smoke coming from the second and third floors, Moretti said.

The door to the apartment complex was locked, so Moretti said he broke down the door. Six soldiers and deputies rushed inside. They could hear people coughing. They knocked on doors and opened the doors, and told those still inside to get out, Private Ben Zaccagnino said.

Everyone was able to get out safely, he said.

As Zaccagnino walked back outside, he spotted a scorched rabbit at the door. He said he pulled the rabbit out of the soot and snow and carried it away from the fire.

Dow said the soldier asked him if the rabbit was his pet, but it wasn’t.

Shortly after, 27-year-old Brandon Harrison came home from work to find his apartment on fire and his 3-year-old Dutch rabbit named Odafin, or Finny for short, burnt but safely out of the burning building. Harrison said his landlord called him to tell him about the fire, so he rushed home.

“I was worried about my bunny,” Harrison said, cradling his pet outside in the cold as firefighters battled the blaze. “I don’t care about anything else; not my shoes or my clothes or anything other than my bunny.

Harrison later said he called a vet, who told him that as long as the rabbit was breathing, he could wait to see Odafin on Tuesday. Harrison said his rabbit was breathing, but he was worried so he planned to call other vets.

Officers who rushed inside the building and firefighters battling the blaze said they were glad everyone was able to get out safely.

Volunteer firefighters from Moyers Corners, North West, Lakeside and Liverpool responded to the scene. Belgian volunteer firefighters from Cold Springs, Clay and North Syracuse were on standby. Northern Onondaga Volunteer Ambulance (NOVA), National Grid, Onondaga County Fire Department investigators and the Red Cross were also called to the scene.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 20 minutes and drilled a hole in the roof to help ventilate the building, Moyers Corners Battalion Fire Chief Scott Beverly said. Firewalls inside the building worked as they were supposed to, which helped minimize damage, he said.

Harrison and the tenant who lives below him were unable to return to their apartments Monday night due to fire damage, Beverly said. The Red Cross will help those displaced by the fire, he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation as of Monday night, Beverly said.


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