Origin of fatal Saugerties blaze still a mystery

The aftermath of the horrific fire. (Photo by Christina Coulter)

State officials say that the cause of the April 21 house fire on 18-20 Russell St., which claimed one life and injured three, can’t be determined due to the structural damage to the building. According to state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services press representative Kristin Devoe, all but the ground floor of the four story home were inaccessible to investigators.

“The second floor had totally collapsed in onto the first,” said Devoe. “We did not find anything in the debris — they were not able to look in the second floor because it was a dangerous situation for our investigators.”


No fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors were found in the debris — however, Devoe said that emergency responders reported hearing an alarm at the time of the fire. The only thing that’s certain is the reiteration of an earlier determination by Saugerties officials: the fire started on the ground floor, in the living room of residence.

Tanya Conklin, 46, was found dead in the rear bedroom of Apt. 2, where she lived with Brittany Conklin, 21, Malikye Stokes, 21, Samantha Widener, 17, and Desiree Widener, 9. According to Saugerties Police Chief Sinagra, the incident isn’t considered suspicious by public officials.