December 31, 2009
Electrical problem likely cause of Cuyler fire
CUYLER — Roy Stanton managed to snatch some clothes he got for Christmas before his home of about 20 years burned to the ground Wednesday morning.
Firefighters from three counties were dispatched at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday to 7504 E. Keeney Road.
By midday, a garage and an outer deck were all that remained of Stanton’s home, which had been a one-story ranch-style house with an addition built onto the back.
Investigators determined the likely cause was an electrical problem with a ceiling fan, said Cuyler Fire Chief Lester Lambert.
When firefighters arrived, the house was “beyond saving,” Lambert said as he stood outside the still-smoldering ruins.
“It was roaring when we got here,” Lambert said. “If we’d saved it, there wouldn’t have been anything left worth saving.”
He said firefighters trained their hoses to keep the attached garage and deck from being consumed.
Lambert said firefighters had a good response to the scene, but he regretted they could not save the residence.
“You have that helpless feeling go through you a little bit,” he said.
During early stages of the firefight, two crews went inside the home and appeared to be making progress when the ceiling began to cave in, said Deputy Fire Coordinator Kevin Whitney. The six firefighters got out before the roof collapsed, he said. They were unhurt.
“It’s difficult to tell how much a hold a fire has on the house,” Whitney said. “It doesn’t take long for them (flames) to multiply and spread and that was what happened here.”
Stanton, also uninjured, recalled he and his brother Rick visited their parents down the road earlier that morning, then he returned home to put some more wood in his stove only to find the beginnings of the fire.
“Then I looked up and said, ‘Whoa, that’s too much smoke,’” Stanton said.
He used a fire extinguisher, but after two failed attempts to put out the flames he decided it was best to save what little he could.
“So I grabbed the clothes I got for Christmas and got the heck outta there,” he said.
Stanton speculated the electrical malfunction was probably from loose wiring in the ceiling fan.
Stanton shares the house with his wife, Pearl, who was not home at the time.
Despite the loss of his home, Stanton said he at least still has some clothes left and his car as well. Stanton said he would likely stay with his parents, who also live on East Keeney Road.
“No problem there, I’ve got a place to stay ... I’ll be all right,” he said.
The American Red Cross also arrived to provide Stanton with short-term assistance.
A trackhoe was used to clear out the debris, to prevent the fire from rekindling, Lambert said.
Firefighters from Cuyler, Cincinnatus, Truxton, DeRuyter, Delphi Falls and Fabius were at the scene.
Stanton’s house is a mile from the border of Onondaga County. The home and 1.8 acre property are assessed at $22,700, according to the Cortland County Real Property Tax Services.
Lambert said Stanton was uninsured.
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