Local News

September 21, 2013

City fire burns tenant; displaces college students

PSU student hurt in Couch Street fire; apartment dwellers displaced


Barrett, Recore and Scott Barshow mounted the fire escape, carrying a hand line into the room at the top.

“But the fire was winning (there),” Barrett said. “Everybody had to back out — it was too hot, too much fire to handle.”

On the ground again, the combined effort of all the firefighters knocked down the flames in maybe 15 minutes, he said.

The mutual aid made the difference, he said, as did everyone working together.

“Everything we do is a team effort,” he said.


City Building Inspector Joseph McMahon, at the property Friday morning, said that the home was inspected nine months ago, and it did have the required smoke alarms.

“But it is not uncommon for tenants to disable smoke alarms on their own,” he said.

“We just don’t know yet.”

While the building remained standing, it suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage.

At least one dog died in the fire, Rascoe said, but several other animals made it to safety.

Tucker’s efforts proved successful; the puppy he worked over began breathing again and was taken to a local veterinarian.

Pecora, a college student from Westchester County, was worried about his dog, Bernie, and cat, Stink, as well as his belongings.

Firefighters were able to rescue his pup; Stink was missing for about two hours but at last showed up.

But most of Pecora’s other stuff was destroyed.

“It’s a catastrophe,” he said, standing outside the smoke-blackened building. “It’s done. Absolutely done.”


Both SUNY Plattsburgh and the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross were assisting the students and local residents who lived at 15 Couch with temporary housing and other needs.

City Police detectives determined the fire’s cause to be accidental, that it started in the electrical wiring of one of the second-floor apartments.

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