WATERTOWN — An apartment house on William Street in the city sustained extensive damage after a fire broke out on Wednesday morning.

The fire department has been fighting the fire at 121 William St. since about 7:30 a.m.

Crews fought flames in the rear of the building, focused on the attic and second floor.

Battalion Chief Andrew Denney said crews had a difficult time extinguishing the flames in the attic.

“Parts are blocked off, inaccessible,” he said.

With most of the flames extinguished, Battalion Chief Denney said there was extensive damage to the rear of the building that made it unclear where one unit started and another ended.

The fire department arrived on scene shortly after the call came in at 7:28 a.m. The building billowed smoke into the air for about an hour, before crews began cutting down on the last of the flames on the upper floors around 8:30 a.m. As of 10 a.m., crews remained on scene putting out small flareups, and William Street remained closed to traffic.

Chief Denney said he had heard there was one person treated on scene for smoke inhalation, but no other injuries or deaths were reported. Shortly before 10 a.m., crews were rescuing a cat from a first-floor apartment, apparently unharmed, and many residents were seen escaping with their pets when the fire was first reported.

City police Detective Lt. Joseph R. Donoghue Sr., who has been on the scene, said the fire “is under investigation.” He confirmed it’s the same building that was the scene of a small fire in that was apparently started by an unknown man.

On Aug. 19, police said man started the small inside one of the units and then fled the scene. Afterward, police could not locate a person of interest involved in that fire.

“We are looking to see if these cases are related,” Det. Donoghue said.

The property, listed with the city as built in 1950 and contained eight units, is owned by TheTriumph LLC, which has a New York City address on the property card.

The LLC is owned by Meira Moet Shapiro, who has made headlines for other questionable properties that she owns.

Last February, a three-unit apartment building at 603 Boyd St. she owned was torn down after the city’s code enforcement office determined that the structure was unsafe.

In August, tenants of a duplex at 639 Emerson St. were forced to leave their home after the basement in the house was flooded and the city codes enforcement office condemned the property.

The fire department had to pump out the basement that had four feet of water following a rainstorm. Firefighters called the codes department after it was learned that the hot water heater became dislodged, causing a hazardous situation.

In 2018, Ms. Shapiro, a Manhattan developer who owns a handful of rental properties in Oswego and about nine other buildings in Watertown, became interested in rental properties in Watertown when she saw an online posting of a deteriorating apartment building at 504 Cooper St.

The city objected to her purchasing it and she did not acquire it. That building remains vacant.

She lives part-time in a town of Mexico residence. She also owns an apartment she purchased in Olympic Towers, the historic Manhattan building where Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Onassis lived and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has a residence.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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(1) comment


A rental property licensing and inspection program would be too expensive. Pennies are worth much more than Pounds.

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