SYLVAN BEACH - Mohawk Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross and community members are helping a local family, whose home was destroyed by a fire Tuesday morning.
State police and numerous different fire departments responded to a home at 508 20th Avenue, between Vienna Road and Pleasant Ave around 10:30 a.m. At least nine different fire and police agencies were called to assist with the fire, several other fire departments were placed on standby, in case more firefighters were needed.
"Manpower is always an issue during the week, " said Rick Johnson, fire chief for the Sylvan Beach Fire Department. "Majority of people are working right now so multiple departments had to be called in just to get enough manpower to help.
Johnson added that the another challenge was the condition of the roof.
"The house itself has two or three roofs on it," he said. "It helps insulate the fire, which also translates into a problem with us getting to the fire."
Johnson said the homeowner called 911 after smelling smoke and seeing some flames in the upstairs portion of the house.
Another challenge for firefighters-- the bitter cold temperatures.
"It takes it toll on the firefighters," Johnson said. "With it being cold like this the frozen air packs, the frozen water, frozen hose, you need to be more conscientious on your gear. That's why we’re swapping guys out we don’t want to them to get to the point where their jackets and everything are frozen. We take them out about every 20 minutes let them warm up and let them get back in."
Johnson said the house is a total loss, but firefighters were able to save some of the family's belongings, including a pet turtle.
According to a news release, the Red Cross provided financial assistance for necessities such as shelter, food and clothing for the family, including two adults and three children, ages 4, 8 and 10. Volunteers also offered emotional support and comfort kits containing personal care items and stuffed animals for the children.
A Facebook and GoFundMe page identify the homeowner as Steven Reinertsen, and NewsChannel 2 has confirmed this information with the Sylvan Beach fire department. The house was heavily damaged, and according to the Facebook page Steven, his wife Samantha, and their three sons - lost most of their possessions in the fire.
No injuries were reported.
For more information on the Red Cross visit: www.redcross.org