Chief Don Newton said the brothers and sisters of the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department will take care of one of their own who lost her home to a fast-moving, wind-driven fire today.
It was a tough thing to watch the home of a volunteer burn in conditions that made saving even a portion of the structure impossible. The house, at 2463 Brown Road, Corfu, sits in the middle of an agricultural area, so the high winds were complicated by a lack of a nearby fire hydrant. Water tankers and porta-ponds were needed to supply the pumpers and a consistent water flow was hard to maintain.
Newton and Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator, both said the fire was well advanced, the flames driven by the winds, by the time the first firefighters arrived.
"The fire would not have been advanced as it was if it was not as windy as it was today," Yaeger said. "We probably could have made an interior attack, but with this, right off the bat, the incident commander, the fire chief of East Pembroke, got on location and called an exterior attack only just because of the advancement of the fire."
The house, built in 1890, was owned by Lori Santini. She was at work and her children were in school when the fire broke out.
The fire appears to have started in an addition on the eastern side of the house at the location of a heat stove.
"Firefighters were able to retrieve a family pet, a dog, so the dog is out safely," Yaeger said.
However, the family cats were not located and are not believed to have survived, Newton said. The family also had pet birds and a pet newt. The fire did not spread to the nearby chicken coop and the chickens are apparently fine.
"It's always difficult to deal with that (a fire at the home of a volunteer firefighter), but thankfully everybody is OK, she's OK, the family is OK, and no injuries reported here of firefighters so far. Everybody is safe," Yaeger said.
The house and all of its contents were a complete loss.
"We talked about Red Cross, but the chiefs said they will take care of her, so I'm sure she's in good hands," Yaeger said.
Newton said his department will likely head a communitywide effort to assist Santini and her children. The Batavian will share more information about assistance efforts when it becomes available.