SCHOHARIE — The first dispatch of a fire at 385 Main St. in Schoharie came in at 4:23 a.m. on Wednesday — just over 12 hours later, the home at that location was gone, and an active member of the local community with it.
Schoharie Fire Department Assistant Chief Marty Pierce was among the first on scene, just six minutes after the initial call.
“When I arrived this morning, the structure was fully involved,” he said. “We believe, because the subject was on oxygen tanks, oxygen tanks were exploding in the residence. We had several explosions after we arrived on scene.”
Two of the three occupants of the residence were home at the time of the fire. One had already gotten out by the time Pierce arrived. They had tried to help the other person inside evacuate but that room was already well involved in the fire, according to the assistant chief. He said the cause of the fire is still being investigated but it began on the first floor in close proximity to the room where the deceased was found.
Schoharie and Middleburgh firefighters had handlines spraying water on the blaze within 10 to 15 minutes, according to Pierce. Due to the nature of the fire, it had to be fought from the outside using aerial devices. Two different fire departments responded specifically due to their ladder trucks, he said.
The second floor ended up collapsing into the first within 20 minutes. It then took a couple hours to completely extinguish the blaze. The scene was finally brought totally under control by 3 p.m., Pierce said. Due to safety issues, a private contractor was brought in with an excavator to tear down what was left of the structure.
All in all, 11 fire departments responded with five more on standby. State fire, county fire coordinators, state search and rescue, two ambulance corps and county paramedics came. A Schoharie County deputy sheriff was the first on scene, just a minute before Pierce, and more county sheriff’s officers as well as state police arrived. By his best estimation, Pierce said 100 firefighters, investigators and law enforcement arrived at the scene.
According to Pierce, the residents’ larger family, themselves included, are very active in the Schoharie community. Two of those who lived at the home were longtime members of the Schoharie Fire Department. In fact, both served as officers. All are very involved in Schoharie Reformed Church.
“It’s a tragic, tragic loss and event to hit Schoharie,” Pierce said.
The identity of the deceased will be released once all family has been notified. Pierce said that would most likely come Thursday.
Schoharie Reformed Church is collecting donations to help the family due to the house being a total loss.
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Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie