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Saratoga Backstretch Workers Homeless After Fire

By Caitlin Morris, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A sequence of row houses on Woodlawn Avenue caught fire at about 4 a.m. Sunday and quickly spread into a major structure fire that burned for more than six hours. As a result, 32 people were displaced from their homes.

No tenant injuries or deaths were reported, but three firefighters were sent to the hospital for heat- and smoke-related issues. They were later released.

The five row houses, connected by stairwells, were 100-108 Woodlawn Ave. The blaze started in the back lower-half of No. 108, which is on the end of the row of houses, officials said. There were 16 residents home at the time of the fire.

During the school year, the buildings tend to house college students. During track season, they are usually home to Saratoga Race Course workers.

One of those employees, Derek Daye, said he and several track workers have stayed in the houses for the last four or five years. They still have five weeks of track season ahead of them, but everything they brought with them from downstate was lost in the fire.

Across the street at 118 Woodlawn Ave. is the Saratoga Assembly of God, which opened its doors to its neighbors and invited everyone on the street over for coffee and donuts and later served lunch.

The Rev. Todd M. Bumbarger, lead pastor, said he was just doing what he tries to teach members of his church — giving with no strings attached. He said the church will be taking a collection for the people who lost everything in the fire.


The American Red Cross has set up a temporary shelter at the Saratoga Springs Recreational Center at 15 Vanderbilt Ave. for anyone displaced by the fire. The shelter is available and staffed around the clock, serving food and helping victims of the fire acquire everything from clothing to housing.

Additionally, donations of new and gently used clothing, gift cards, toiletries and pre-paid phone cards will be accepted from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Sunday at the backstretch recreational hall inside gate 16 off Union Avenue. Leads on available housing also will be accepted at that location.   

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