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What you need to know for 09/24/2017

Family escapes hurricane to Halfmoon, then deals with fire

Family escapes hurricane to Halfmoon, then deals with fire

'We are all still together, which is the most important thing'
Family escapes hurricane to Halfmoon, then deals with fire
Firefighters at the scene of Tuesday morning's camper fire in Halfmoon.
Photographer: Provided

HALFMOON — A large Florida family in the area to escape Hurricane Irma wound up dealing with a fire this week in Halfmoon.

No one was injured in the fire, but a camper was destroyed in the Tuesday morning blaze.

The family of three adults, 13 children and three dogs all fled Edgewater, Florida, near Daytona Beach, in a small bus they own ahead of Irma. Seven of the children are foster children with autism or developmental delays.

They ended up at a home on Smith Road in Halfmoon, one that family members had used in the past, and some of the boys used the camper to experience camping, family member Paige Auborn told The Gazette.

All of the children, however, were away from the area of the fire at the time, Auborn said, evacuating the surrounding area safely.

"Thankfully at home we do frequent fire, hurricane and tornado drills," Auborn said via a Facebook message. "As with a large group of children like this (with the special needs included), it is essential for us to always be prepared."

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Auborn has four children — one adopted and three foster. Her mother has nine — five adopted and four foster. They range in age from newborn to 17.

Pictured: Paige Auborn (seated center left) and her extended family in a 2016 photo. (Provided)

Auborn's 21-year-old brother spotted the fire when he went into the home's back yard, Auborn said. By that time, flames had taken over. 

Her brother suffered the only injury — to his back while trying to get their dogs away safe. He's doing better, she said.

Art Hunsinger of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire Department cited an electric heater too close to combustibles as the cause, according to Gazette news-gathering partner CBS6.

As for the family's homes in Florida — Auborn's and her mother's — Auborn said they've heard positive news from neighbors, with damage limited to a few lost shingles and a blown tire.

The family plans to stay in the area through Friday. They're keeping an eye on Hurricane Jose, as well as the power situation, before heading home.

She said they've since received donations of food, clothing and bedding from the fire department and the Red Knights New York Chapter 12 motorcycle club.

Auborn counts herself blessed that no one was seriously injured as a result of the fire. 

"I do believe it to be a bit ironic that our family evacuated from one potentially life-threatening situation to face another," she wrote. "It has been an eye-opener for me, as many of us never for see anything like this ever happening to us. 

"However," she added. "I have to keep my positivity. Our homes in Florida (that we know of) are safe and secure. I'm hoping they remain that way if Jose hits us sometime next week. We still have our vehicle that we drove here in. And we are all still together, which is the most important thing."

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