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Churchill: Myrtle Avenue fire takes homes, and memories

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ALBANY — Barbara Jackson had everything she needed to be content.

In the house her parents had purchased, where she had lived for nearly all her 91 years, Jackson had a lifetime of memories and rooms full of mementos. Within those walls, she had grown up, lived with her husband and raised her own children. She had grown old there, too.

"I was satisfied, absolutely satisfied," Jackson said, recalling the sun room full of plants where she loved to sit. "I would have lived there until I died."

But late on Thursday night, as she was preparing for bed, Jackson opened her back door and discovered shocking heat. Flames were jumping from a neighboring building. Jackson fled through the front of the house without even slowing to retrieve her pocket book.

Within hours, Jackson's home at 24 Myrtle Ave. and four others in the Mansion Historic District had been destroyed by the blaze, which is believed to have started in a vacant building at 20 Myrtle. The fire left Jackson and about 40 others without their homes, and left a gaping hole in the Albany neighborhood downhill from the governor's mansion.

The city razed the buildings on Friday and Saturday. Police officers retrieved some photographs and a few important documents for Jackson, but to her........

© Times Union