October 16, 2012

AuSable home destroyed by fire


---- — AuSABLE — A family of four lost their home to fire in the Town of AuSable Monday afternoon.

“It’s at least an 80 percent loss,” Assistant Fire Chief Kyle Roberts of the Keeseville Volunteer Fire Department said.

The two-story white house at 1647 Route 9N was the home of Patty Kelley and three of her children — Zachary, 16; James, 15; and Carl, 13 —  all students at AuSable Valley Central School. 

Roberts said his crews had just left a tractor-trailer accident at the other end of their district when the fire was reported. Firefighters from AuSable Forks Fire Department, the first to arrive, found the home engulfed in heavy smoke.

He said he asked AuSable Forks First Assistant Chief Michael Cross to take initial control of the fire so he could concentrate on getting the first Keeseville fire truck to the blaze.

Roberts said crews performed an interior and exterior attack and had the fire extinguished within 10 to 15 minutes of arrival.

“Once we got inside, we eliminated that (smoke) problem,” he said.

The exterior of the house was charred but standing, but the interior appeared to be totally gutted by the flames. Smoke was still billowing from the roof about an hour after fire companies were dispatched to the fire, and flame-quenching foam lay in drifts about the yard.


Roberts said a home just to the west was not damaged.

“We took that into consideration. We protected all the exposures,” he said.

The Clinton County Water Tanker Task Force was able to bring water from a hydrant near the Stewart’s Shop in AuSable Forks, about 2 miles away. Greg Timmons of Clinton County Emergency Services said that involved six tankers.

They would usually be able to obtain water from Lower Road in nearby Clintonville, but low water levels eliminated that option. Having the Task Force means a water supply is one less thing a fire chief has to worry about, Timmons said.

Keeseville Fire Department received mutual-aid assistance from the AuSable Forks, Jay, Upper Jay, Willsboro, District 3, South Plattsburgh and Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Departments.

Kelley’s sister-in-law, Tina Kelley, was unsure whether the family has insurance. She said they did plan to seek assistance from the American Red Cross.

Patty’s husband, Russell, had died in February 2011, and she had been raising the three boys on her own. They have a large family, though, and everyone will help out as much as they can, Tina said.

The cause of the fire was not available on Monday evening.

Email Dan Heath