Updated 02/25/2013 08:00 PM
Residents coping after Binghamton apartment fire
Dozens of people remain displaced following a large weekend fire in Binghamton. It started at 259 Main Street Saturday evening and spread to the attached apartment building at 261. Our Melissa Kakareka has more on how residents are coping.
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Shakedia Hamilton used to live on the third floor of 259-261 Main Street in Binghamton. She stopped outside her former home Monday to get a glimpse of what is left of the building.
"This is my first time experiencing a fire, so I really don't know. I'm just trying to cope with it right now. Hopefully I can get everything back," said Hamilton.
Authorities say Daniel P. Kauchis, 36, was "cooking meth" in one of the apartments Saturday evening and caused a small explosion. The fire kept crews busy throughout the day Sunday and caused so much damage that the apartment complex remains uninhabitable.
Seventeen families, like Hamilton’s, have been displaced. The Red Cross has been helping those affected by the fire.
"We set up a shelter at the St. Mary's Recreation Center on Hawley Street in downtown Binghamton. Saturday night, we had 41 residents. And thankfully we were able to place all these individuals in temporary housing, whether it be in hotels or with family members," said Southern Tier Red Cross Chapter Executive Shelley Bierwiler.
Residents say they are grateful for the help. Still, the recovery process has just begun.
"It was hard, real hard, because we lost everything, clothes, pictures, birth certificates," said Hamilton. "My kids are not comfortable with the situation at all. My son is crying because he had to go to school and he doesn't want to go. My daughter wants to go home but we have no home to go to."
Kauchis has been charged with reckless endangerment in the first degree and arson in the fourth degree. Authorities say he had minor burns to his leg, face and hand. He was arraigned in City Court and sent to the Broome County Jail.