October 22, 2021

Off duty fire chief, his family spot blaze in Homer

Discovery saves Route 11 building just north of village

Stock Photo

Virgil Fire Chief Adam Brown was heading out Sunday evening on a fishing trip with his wife, Tina, and twin 14-year-old sons, Addison and Kaden, when they missed the park entrance in Homer. Pulling into the dirt parking lot of Dan’s Truck Shop, they spotted smoke at the building.

“We were turning around when we saw light smoke coming from the eves,” Adam Brown recounted afterward. “I could see flames inside.”

Brown, a former emergency dispatcher for Cortland County, reported the fire. He and his family began to check around the building on Route 11 just north of the village of Homer for any signs of someone inside.

“I didn’t want to open the door to give the fire oxygen,” Brown said. “I was pretty sure no one was inside.”

Homer Fire Chief Mahlon Irish Jr. said the fire was reported at 5:02 p.m. and firefighters from Homer, Cortlandville and Preble had it under control within about 20 minutes.

“It went up the wall,” Irish said of the flames. “It got into the roof area a little.”

A pickup truck inside the building was damaged by the flames, he said.

State fire investigators were called to look into the cause of the fire, Irish said as he awaited their arrival. He credited the Browns with preventing serious damage to the building.

“It was luck for the owner,” Adam Brown said, standing on a fishing dock at Durkee Memorial Park with his family nearby Sunday, a little over an hour after discovering the fire.

Brown said he has been in the fire service, first as a junior firefighter with the Freeville Fire Department at the age of 16 and later with the Virgil Fire Department.

He said his sons, who turn 15 soon, plan to become junior firefighters with his department when they turn 16.

“We are trying to recruit them, so this is a good learning experience,” the Virgil fire chief said.