On November 20, 2017, Vails Gate, assisted by numerous departments from Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Westchester and Rockland Counties, operated at a structure fire with HazMat at Verla International located on Temple Hill Road in the Vails Gate Fire District. Firefighters arrived to an active fire and were advised of at least one individual unaccounted for and believed to be trapped within the structure. As they began to search, an explosion occurred that blew crews off a stairwell, knocked others off their feet, trapped several firefighters, and caused significant structural damage to the building. Maydays were sounded, and crews now went to work rescuing their own. All firefighters were successfully removed from the structure and accounted for. Firefighters then went to defensive mode and numerous foam units were called to the scene from the Stewart Air National Guard unit as well as those part of the NYS Foam Task Force. Firefighters were able contain the fire to the building of origin and minimize damage to a larger attached structure. The fire resulted in the death of one occupant, numerous injuries to others, as well as injuries to numerous firefighters, seven of which were from the City of Newburgh Fire Department. At least one firefighter was transported to the Westchester Medical Center Burn Unit for treatment.

– Fire News photos by Bill Johnson