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Fire victim identified in Saturday night blaze

Melanie Lekocevic/Columbia-Greene Media The massive fire that tore through 53 Washington Ave. in the village of Coxsackie and took the life of fire department Life Member Larry Connolly.
December 9, 2018 08:09 pm

COXSACKIE — The Coxsackie man killed in a structure fire on Washington Avenue in the village has been identified as Larry Connolly, according to Greene County Coroner Russell Davis.

Davis said the autopsy on Connolly, 74, was completed Sunday.

“The autopsy was done today and I will probably have results tomorrow,” Davis said Sunday night.

Connolly was a Life Member of D.M. Hamilton Steamer Company No. 2, having served with the company for more than 25 years. Connolly was also active for years in local political circles in Coxsackie.

The fire call came in to the department at 7:04 p.m. Saturday for a fire that started on the top floor of 53 Washington Ave., according to Coxsackie Fire Chief Shawn Burdick.

Connolly was pronounced dead at the scene, Burdick said. The house has been deemed a total loss, according to Burdick, because of fire and extensive water damage. The fire itself “was contained to the third floor, a finished attic space,” Burdick said.

At the time of the fire, Connolly was home with his wife. She was able to escape without serious injury.

“His wife was pulled out by two passersby,” Burdick said.

Connolly’s wife is Victoria Connolly. She was transported to the hospital Saturday night to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans, who is also a firefighter in the village, released a statement Sunday and while the statement did not identify Connolly or his wife by name, Evans said he had been in touch with her and that she was not injured.

“I have spoken to the departed member’s wife this morning,” according to Evans’ statement, referencing Connolly’s status as a fire department Life Member. “She is uninjured and extends her thanks to everyone who worked so hard and long at the scene last night.”

Numerous area fire departments responded to the call for mutual aid for the massive fire. Evans commended the “valiant efforts” of the local department, D.M. Hamilton, in trying to rescue Connolly, a Life Member of that department. Evans also thanked other local fire companies for their efforts.

“The rapid response and quick attack afforded every chance to make a rescue that was simply not meant to be,” Evans wrote in his statement. “I would like to thank the many surrounding departments that provided assistance on-scene or standing by.”

“We also appreciate the many condolences expressed from our surrounding departments,” Evans’ statement concluded. “It is never easy to lose a resident and especially a brother firefighter.”

Departments responding to the scene included Coxsackie, New Baltimore, Athens, West Athens, Catskill, Hudson, Earlton, Medway-Grapeville, Greenville and Coeymans Hollow. Departments remaining on standby included Leeds, Westerlo and Coeymans. Several ambulance companies also responded.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.