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Victim identified in Hudson Falls fatal fire

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HUDSON FALLS — A woman died in a fire early Wednesday at a home on North Street and police, aided by a neighbor, were able to rescue her boyfriend from the home’s roof.

The victim was identified as 19-year-old Ashley E. Coltrain. She was found in a second-floor bedroom in the burning house shortly after the 4:50 a.m. blaze was knocked down.

Hudson Falls Police officers rescued a man from the roof of a front porch at the 11 North St. home, but were unable to get into the building to get to Coltrain, Hudson Falls Police Chief Randy Diamond said. She was believed to have called 911 to report the fire.

“The home was fully engulfed,” Diamond said. “It was a really, really hot fire.”

He said it was not clear why the woman did not evacuate the home, as county dispatchers advised her to do when she placed the 911 call.

“We are not sure what kept her inside,” Hudson Falls Fire Chief Mike Fitzgerald said.

The man who escaped was her boyfriend, identified as Derrick Guilder, and he remained in Glens Falls Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation as of late Wednesday afternoon.

There were pets in the home, including ferrets and at least one cat, and she may have been trying to get them out. Police were interviewing Guilder on Wednesday, but he was on oxygen and his condition was hindering that, police said.

Diamond said a neighbor brought a ladder over to help officers Sean Smith and Ed Ackley rescue the man.

“Thankfully, they were able to get him or there would have been a second fatality,” he said.

Neighbors identified the good Samaritan as Duane Charland, saying he heard the fire call on a police scanner, and grabbed a ladder when he saw police cars in front of the burning house and ran it down the street.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office released later Wednesday video from Deputy Brad Hamilton’s body camera that showed officers and firefighters battling heavy smoke and flames to try to get in different windows and doors of the burning home. Some coughed heavily as smoke billowed.

“It’s too hot for them to get in there,” an officer said at one point.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, ranging from heat exhaustion to a cut finger, smoke inhalation and a minor back injury.

Fitzgerald said there were initial concerns that others may have been unaccounted for in the building, but just the one woman was found.

“We did a complete sweep and everyone was accounted for,” he said.

The makeup of the home, with a wall that separated one side from the other, and an abundance of items stored in hallways and stairways hindered firefighter access, but Fitzgerald said those issues likely didn’t affect the outcome.

The cause of the fire had not been determined, but Diamond said there was no initial indication it was suspicious. Washington County and state Office of Fire Prevention and Control fire investigators are investigating, with State Police assisting Hudson Falls Police with interviews of witnesses.

Fire damage was heaviest on the first floor in the southeast corner of the two-story home, where a living room was located, but Diamond said it may take days or longer to determine the cause.

Fire investigators were using shovels to scoop up debris to review it closely.

“They are going over every square inch of that house,” Diamond said.

Guilder was taken to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment of injuries that were considered non-life-threatening.

Coltrain’s 40-year-old mother had just died a week or so earlier of a heart attack in the home, police said.

Neighbors said the family was quiet, and several were tearful at the double tragedy they had endured.

“They lived there about a year. I never talked to them. They were quiet,” said Joe LaPointe, who lives across the street.

Coltrain was a 2016 graduate of Hudson Falls High School who worked at The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom as a cashier.

Loved ones of the victim gathered near the home throughout the day, a fire department chaplain consoling them at one point. They declined to comment to gathered reporters as they waited amid a steady rain.

One neighboring home sits no more than 20 feet from 11 North, and firefighters kept the blaze from jumping to it.

Firefighters from Hudson Falls were assisted by Fort Edward, Kingsbury, South Queensbury and Queensbury Central at the scene. Fort Edward Police, State Police and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene as well.


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