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."
Photo: Submitted by a reader.