High winds and no fire hydrants make for a tough day for firefighters in Herkimer County


DANUBE, N.Y. (WKTV) - Susan May of Herkimer says she and her son were driving by Fincks Basin Road in the Town of Danube around 9:45 Monday morning and saw flames, "and all of a sudden, we looked at the back of the house. The one back corner was lit up with fire and so we stopped, pulled over and called 911."

Firefighters from Little Falls showed up less than 15 minutes later to the home at 219 Fincks Basin Road.

Little Falls Fire Chief Robert Parese says there was fire everywhere when his department arrived and two of his firefighters were very lucky they weren't injured.

"Once we went in through the front door, they didn't even make in the front door five feet, and it ended up pushing them back, started coming out the door," Chief Parese said.

Parese says the winds, which were steady and estimated to be between 25 and 30 miles per hour, made it tough to fight the fire from the outside as well.

"A lot of smoke, a lot of debris flying around," Chief Parese said. "The wind caused a problem in itself. A wind driven fire is just like a tornado within that fire complex."

Eight different fire departments were called in, and their tankers were used for about three hours to go back and forth between a designated fire hydrant near the Little Falls Fire Department and the scene, to bring in full tankers of water.

Parese says the attack of the fire was concentrated from his department's aerial truck.

"We brought it in and we tried to supply that with as much water as we could and just tried to put as much water on it as we could," Chief Parese said.

The fire was pretty well under control around 1 p.m.., but the structure was leveled to the ground.

Due to the high winds, it was one fire Susan May says she'll never forget.

"We stayed for a couple hours this morning and just watched, listened to the windows popping and stuff, and it was just nasty," May said.

Besides two brick fireplaces that were still intact, the only other thing that stood out among the burnt remains was a 'For Sale' sign that remained on the front lawn.

The home had been, and still is, listed on the website for $175,000.

Parese says the homeowner did come to the scene after crews arrived, but didn't say much about the conversation he had with that homeowner.

Due to the extensive damage to the structure, Parese says he is not sure how soon it will be known whether or not a cause can be determined.

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