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Fire alarm, quick response by City Fire help keep house fire contained to kitchen

By Howard B. Owens


An alarm system and quick response from the Batavia City Fire Department saved a home on East Avenue from destruction tonight when a fire started in the kitchen while the homeowners were away.

The alarm came in at 7:41 p.m. at 224 East Ave., Batavia, and when firefighters arrived on scene, according to Capt. Craig Williams, the inferno building inside wasn't obvious.

"When pulled up we could hear an audible alarm sounding but couldn’t see any smoke," Williams said. "There was nobody home at the time. It was closed up tight. When we went to the front door, we could smell something burning inside and we could see steam on the inside of all the windows, so it was pretty hot in there."

During an exterior check of the house, a firefighter saw flames through a rear window, so crews broke in through the front door.

The kitchen was quickly fully involved and firefighters began beating back the flames from a front window, pushing the fire toward the back of the house.

Chief James Maxwell credited the crews with a quick, strategic response for saving the structure. As rapidly as fire can spread, without either the alarm or the fast response, the whole structure could have become engulfed quickly.

The home, owned by Jeffery and Rebecca Oshlag, suffered $30,000 damage from what is officially classified as an accidental fire.

The kitchen was destroyed and there was heavy smoke and heat damage throughout the house.

Two cats survived the fire. One suffered from smoke inhalation and was taken to a veterinary clinic. It is expected to survive. (NOTE: See comment below from Rachel Oshlag -- one of the cats, an orange tabby, is still missing. Rachel believes it's in the neighborhood someplace.)

Rebecca Oshlag said she was grateful for the alarm system and the quick response from the fire department.

She also praised Nancy Nickerson and Sean Valdes, owners of the D&R Depot in Le Roy, where she and her husband were having dinner. 

She said they had just sat down when Jeffery received the call about the fire alarm.  Thinking that it was a false alarm, Jeffery hopped in his car and headed toward the house, planning to return to dinner.

When they found out it was a real fire, Rebecca said she approached Nancy and said she had a problem -- there was a fire at her house and Jeffery had already left. Sean drove Rebecca home.

"It was wonderful, wonderful help from the Depot," Rebecca said. "It's one of the advantages of small-town living."

(initial report)

Photo: Submitted by a reader.

Rachel Oshlag

My family would like to thank everyone who responded to the fire this evening for all of your assistance. We truly live in a wonderful community.

One of our cats is missing after the fire. We believe she got out of the house and is somewhere in the area. She is an indoor/outdoor cat, so she knows her way around the area, but we're concerned about her and would be grateful if people in the neighborhood could keep an eye out for her--she may need medical attention. She is a short haired orange cat with orange eyes, and answers to Dolly. She has a microchip with her identifying information, but she doesn't have a collar. If anyone finds her, please let us know. You can sign my guest book here to contact us. A picture of Dolly can be found here.

Oct 9, 2010, 2:22am Permalink
Michele Case

Several years ago while I was in college I worked part time managing a very large apartment complex. Sean Valdes called to inquire about an elderly woman who dined regularly at the Depot. I advised I would try to check on her. He even came over to the apartment he was so concerned about her. The woman suffered from a medical condition and because of his call she was able to get the help she needed. Way to go, Sean! You truly are a compassionate person.
@ Rachel...Sorry about your fire, thankfully the alarm helped minimize the damage. Hope you find the orange kitty, and let us know!

Oct 9, 2010, 5:58pm Permalink
Janice Stenman

Sorry about your fire, but I'm glad your kitty is back with you.

Regarding the people at the Depot, they restore my faith in human kindness.

Oct 10, 2010, 2:03am Permalink

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