By Melissa Hale-Spencer
GUILDERLAND — Fast action on Friday — first, from a neighbor and then from volunteer firefighters — saved a house from being destroyed by flames.
A neighbor across the street from the vinyl-sided frame house at 3272 East Old State Road saw smoke and called 911, according to Allen Mason, a lieutenant with the Guilderland Fire Department.
The call came in at 1:06 p.m., and, within 11 minutes, “We were on the scene,” he said.
Mason was with the Guilderland Fire Department truck company. “We took to the roof to vent the house,” he said.
Fort Hunter’s engine company “made the attack through the front door,” he said. “They entered within four or five minutes to put the fire out,” said Mason.
There were initial concerns that a woman with disabilities who lives in the house might be inside, but the home turned out to be empty, Mason said.
The Westmere department brought its FAST (Firefighter Assist and Search Team) crew, which is trained in rapid intervention to pull people from a fire. The crew wasn’t needed. One firefighter suffered from smoke inhalation but there were no other injuries, said Mason.
North Bethlehem brought its rehab facility, which is housed in a tent. “But the fire was out so fast, it wasn’t needed,” said Mason. The Carman department responded as well.
The fire was in the kitchen and had started “in the vicinity of the stove,” Mason said.
Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, he said, it appears to be accidental.
“The kitchen area was heavily damaged,” he said, “and there was smoke damage throughout.”
The fire did not spread to the attic of the one-story house, he said, although it charred the beams.
After the flames were quelled, firefighters on the roof used a thermal imaging camera, which reads heat rather than light, to see if there were hot spots in the attic; there weren’t, said Mason.
Mason has been with the Guilderland department for three years. Retired from a military career — he was a search and development engineer who manned aircraft — Mason said he is “used to quick activity.”
The work of a volunteer firefighter is “both interesting and boring,” he said. Mason explained, “We do not get a lot of real fires; these are few and far between. The training takes a lot of time…99 percent of the calls aren’t real fires. We get a lot of alarms, vehicle crashes where we provide support at the scene, and service calls when wires are down or basements are flooded.”
Mason, who helps his family with elder care, said he’s happy to be able to volunteer.
“We caught this in the insipient stage,” he concluded of Friday’s house fire. “With a wood frame house, if you don’t get to the fire quickly, there will be a lot of damage once it spreads.”