PLATTSBURGH — Andrew Witt tried his best to thank every single firefighter who had come to save his home.
A blaze Monday afternoon gutted the house at 28 Romeo Circle that Witt shared with his fiance, Mary-Ann Piccozi and their daughters, 5-year old Emberlyn, and 3-year-old Braelyn.
No one was hurt in the fire, but the family lost most of its possessions save for a few pieces of clothing they were able to salvage.
SHOCKED AND SPEECHLESS
But amid the tragedy of the day, the generosity of strangers warmed the family’s hearts.
“I actually had a bad taste in my mouth with the way humanity has been going,” Witt said, “But when something like this happens, it’s amazing with everybody coming together and helping us out. I’m really shocked and speechless.”
That help started with a pair of passers-by who alerted Picozzi to the fire.
“They started screaming inside to make sure everybody was out,” Witt said.
The blaze had been silently growing in the walls, Plattsburgh District 3 Fire Chief R. Scott Ewing said Monday.
The growing flames went unnoticed by Picozzi, who dismissed an earlier smoke smell.
“The windows were open and she thought someone was just having a fire outside,” said Witt, who was at work at the time.
The harsh smell of an electrical fire stood out after Picozzi was alerted to the fire, leading her to go outside.
“That’s when she noticed that half the house was on fire, the front of the house,” Witt said.
Picozzi quickly got the girls out of the home, but the family cats were still inside.
Witt had been worried that the cats, Sam and Dean, would be hiding in Witt and Picozzi’s bedroom, near where the fire was the worst.
But firefighters found the felines hiding in a spare bedroom.
“They were safe, we just gave them some oxygen afterwards,” he said.
Between fighting the flames and saving his pets, Witt said the firefighters were unbelievably helpful.
“For their quick response and rescuing my kitties like they did, those guys were fantastic. They definitely were on the ball; they’re professionals,” he said.
WISH THERE WAS A WAY
As the family settled in to a motel room arranged by the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross, support began pouring in from the North Country community.
“Everybody’s been coming together helping us, everybody’s been reaching out and trying to help and it’s been wonderful,” he said.
Witt couldn’t find enough words to express how grateful the family was for all the help from everyone.
“I wish there was a way that I could personally thank every one of them,” he said.
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