September 4, 2013

Four escape Altona fire safely


---- — ALTONA — The house at 4956 Route 11 was engulfed in flames, and people were climbing out of windows to safety as neighbor Ronald Perry watched from next door.

He had just called 911, alerted by a resident of the burning home at about 6 a.m. Tuesday.

The house, owned by Kathy Pecor, was destroyed by the fire, Ellenburg Depot Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Louis LaValley said.

“It was fully involved, with flames coming out of all the windows, all sides and heavy black smoke,” said Ellenburg Depot Assistant Fire Chief Jason Hayes, who arrived shortly after the department was dispatched at 6:09 a.m.

Four people were there when the fire sparked, LaValley said: two young women, both 19, and residents Josh Ryan and Gary Woodward.

The young men are Pecor’s grandsons, LaValley said.


Perry said Pecor had recently moved to Florida, and Ryan and Woodward had only just finished moving in to the residence this past weekend.

The two were “saving money to remodel. The poor guys didn’t even get that far,” Perry said.

He said they lost everything, adding they “don’t even have shoes on their feet.”

And they don’t have renter’s insurance, LaValley said.

He echoed Perry, saying nothing could be salvaged from the home.

Ryan and Woodward did not accept American Red Cross assistance and would likely be staying with relatives, LaValley said.

The structure was a single-family “old-style” residence that is assessed at $26,800, according to the website of the Clinton County Real Property Office.

The home measured 64 feet by 217 feet, data said.


On Tuesday afternoon, a Department of Environmental Conservation spills engineer was at the fire site overseeing the cleanup of fuel oil that had spilled when a 250-gallon tank ruptured during the fire, DEC spokesperson David Winchell said.

“It was mainly pressure from the heat from the fire that caused it to rupture.”

Representatives from OP-TECH Environmental Services, based in East Syracuse, would likely be done by the end of the day, Winchell said.

“It sounds like there really isn’t a lot (of oil left) there,” he said, adding that it didn’t pose any kind of environmental threat.

The company would report to DEC if any of the oil happened to penetrate the soil. If that were the case, the soil would be removed and disposed of properly, Winchell said.

Mutual aid was provided to Ellenburg Depot firefighters by fire departments from Altona, Churubusco and Ellenburg Center.

The Mooers Fire Department was on standby at the Ellenburg Depot station.

The companies returned to their respective stations at 9:30 a.m.

— Staff Writer Robin Caudell and Photographer Rachel Moore contributed to this report.