Lack of water hampers firefight

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NEW LONDON — At least a dozen area volunteer fire departments responded to a blaze that destroyed a home on Wood Creek Road Tuesday morning.

Two adults and their three school-aged children are receiving assistance from the Mohawk Valley Chapter American Red Cross with food vouchers, clothing and hotel stay. No one was home at the time the fire broke out.

The alarm was raised for 4327 Wood Creek Drive at 8:52 a.m., with New London Fire Department the initial responder. Durhamville, Sylvan Beach and Vienna were called in two
minutes later. A passer-by noticed smoke coming from the home and contacted 911.

New London Deputy Chief Timothy Fields said a lack of local water supply hampered firefighting efforts. Several tankers were called in for mutual aid. Also responding were North Bay, McConnellsville, Westmoreland, Stanwix Heights, Taberg and Camden. Oneida Castle and Cleveland fire departments were placed on stand-by, as well as AmCare Ambulance.

Fields said the closest fire hydrant was 3-4 miles away in the Vienna district so he called out as far as Canastota Fire Department for assistance with tankers at the scene.

“We only have a dry hydrant that we usually use out of the Barge Canal and because there’s a snowmobile trail there, it was built up with snow and we could not get to it,” the deputy chief said. “So we had to go to Vienna fire district 3-4 miles away just to get to the closest hydrant.”

Smoke billowed from the roof and eaves upon arrival and firefighters initially conducted an interior attack before intense heat pushed them back. Flames engulfed the center of the home shortly after.

“When we got there, heavy smoke was coming out of one end of the house in back,” Fields said. “The theory is to gain entry and push the fire out from where it is. Most people don’t realize you can actually push a fire with water. We tried to gain access, but the heat and smoke became so hot and intense, crews got out just in time before it flashed over, and then at that point, it turned to an exterior attack.”

The deputy chief said it was well after 11 a.m. before the fire was under control, but then in early afternoon, there was another flare up when flames reached the basement. Then several departments including New London, Sylvan Beach, Durhamville, Vienna, Verona and Taberg were back at the scene at 9:23 p.m. for a rekindle.

“During the day, the fire got into the cellar. We were still there, but I had to call more tankers back that we had already released,” Fields said. “But there was so much wood down in the cellar.”

Fields said firefighters “can’t speculate” on a cause. State fire investigators are coming in to help investigate, the deputy chief said. He speculated it would take a while to determine the cause of the blaze because of the size of the large home.

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