Albany house explosion

At 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 16th, an explosion occurred in a two-story home just outside Albany. A ten year-old girl was found alive, but two of her family members died tragically in the disaster. There were conflicting reports about the possibility of another victim unaccounted for, and New York’s Task Force 2 was dispatched with SDF canines Bonnie and Marsi to search the premises.

The teams combed through all of the wreckage on the first and second floors of the dwelling and in the woods adjacent to the home. "It was 95 degrees out there. The house is a lot of toothpicks and hot ashes." Finding no other victims, the dogs were brought to medical rehab for evaluation. Bonnie had two very small scrapes on her rear left leg and was treated by her handler Bill Simmes.

After this and a prior deployment to a flood, Bill sent in these observations: We were so fortunate to have Pluis here with us during the flood deployment; I wish all the hanldlers could be that lucky. We went into that deployment with the confidence we do during a training, knowing Pluis was there to back us up. Responding to the house explosion, without Pluis, was different. We didn't have much time to think about getting nervous. When the call comes in we’re constantly on the phone, gathering information and dispatching the teams. While en route to the scene I tried to keep in mind what we were taught the first week of training: Consider these dogs the most important life-saving tool in the tool box. Knowing that this remarkable "tool" we’ve been given has been expertly training and is in top deployment condition gives us complete confidence that she is going to do her best when taken out of that tool box and "turned on".

I found myself mentally blocking out all the rescuers who were watching us for the first time, knowing that they were carefully observing the dogs, as this was a new experience for everyone. They were fascinated with the work the dogs were doing.

When Bonnie cleared the site, assuring everyone that no one had been left behind in need of rescue, it gave me the feeling that her job is the absolute greatest thing on earth!

Bill Simmes Fire Protection Specialist 1

New York Department of State, Office of Fire Prevention and Control