February 26, 2013
Fire damages Willet home
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Firefighter Toby Eldred, of the Genegantslet Fire Company in Smithville Flats, carries a charred piece of wood through the smoke from the rear of a Carr Road home that burned Monday morning in Willet.
WILLET — Lori Brown had just gotten up around 8 a.m. Monday when she smelled smoke and told her husband, Gale.
The kitchen of their one-story house at 5901 Carr Road was full of smoke. Gale Brown quickly checked the wood stove but nothing was wrong.
He looked in the pump house attached to the house’s back corner and saw flames.
The fire left the house heavily damaged but the Browns got out, along with Lori’s daughter Melissa Gardner and a friend, who had been visiting for the weekend from Cortland.
Willet Fire Chief Greg McGowan said the fire was under control quickly, once the call came to 911 about 8:30 a.m.
He said he lives nearby and responded “within a couple minutes.”
Firefighters cut holes in the tin roof to release smoke.
McGowan said the preliminary investigation listed the cause as electrical from a heat tape malfunction. He said the house appeared to be a total loss.
“It was tough,” McGowan said later Monday. “The house had so many additions built onto it, and every time you do that it creates pockets where the fire can spread.”
Willet firefighters were aided at the scene by firefighters from Cincinnatus, Marathon, Killawog and Genegantslet Fire Co. in Smithville Flats, which is just 5 or 6 miles from the fire site.
Cincinnatus Ambulance was on standby. McGraw firefighters were called to stand by at the Cincinnatus firehouse. A state trooper, a Cortland County Sheriff’s officer and utility workers, including New York State Electric & Gas, also were at the scene.
The house is in the southeast corner of Cortland County, near the Chenango and Broome county lines.
The Browns and their houseguests stood in front of a nearby barn, wrapped in blankets and, in Gale Brown’s case, a bathrobe. They said they felt lucky to get out. A smoke alarm sounded only after they had smelled the smoke.
Gale Brown said he used two fire extinguishers on the flames.
Lori Brown said she had just spoken with her brother by telephone at 7:30 a.m. and a toddler staying at the house had been picked up by a family member when she smelled smoke.
The Browns said they have lived at the house since 1999.
Gale Brown said he has a large supply of wood that could be used for repairs.
The house is assessed at $15,000 according to Cortland County Real Property Services.
Firefighters pumped water from ponds down the road, to supply firefighters at the scene.
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