by nicole a. elliott Staff writer

BOONVILLE — A couple was displaced from their home on Valley View Drive Monday afternoon when their couch caught fire, setting a large portion of the one-story house ablaze.

Fire Chief David Pritchard said the alarm rang for 44 Valley View Drive at 12:18 p.m. when the owner’s wife, Jacqueline Webster, spotted fire in the living room. She attempted to put flames out on her own before calling 9-1-1, delaying firefighters’ response and causing her to suffer minor injuries, he said.

"She was in the bedroom and heard a noise. Then she came out and saw fire on the living room couch," Pritchard said. "She made an attempt to put the fire out herself, but she suffered smoke inhalation and her face and hands were almost black with soot. As soon as we got on the scene we got her in the ambulance and they gave her minor first aid, but she refused transport" to the hospital.

Attempting to put the fire out before contacting 9-1-1 "is always a bad thing," the chief added. "You should always call 9-1-1 right away."

Webster was outside and barefoot when first repsonders found heavy smoke coming from the rear of the residence. Constableville and Remsen were called in for mutual aid and Westernville was placed on stand-by at the Boonville station. A county deputy fire coordinator also responded.

Pritchard said it took about 45 minutes to get the blaze under control.

"There was extensive damage to the living room and kitchen areas," the chief said. "The walls were burned about half-way up, and all the plastic in the rooms melted."

Pritchard said Jacqueline Webster and husband, Peter, are being assisted by the Red Cross, and may be staying with the couple’s daughter. The Websters didn’t have insurance, Pritchard said.

Firefighters believe a cigarette or some type of smoking material ignited the furniture.

"The couch was definitely where the fire originated," Pritchard said.