Gutted Cass Hill Road home attributed to kerosene heater

— Photo by Richard Guilz Jr.

On a cold and windy morning, crews from East Berne, Westerlo, and Onesquethaw fire companies finish extinguishing a fire that damaged the inside of a home on Cass Hill Road Thursday. The owner lost everything, and was helped with financial aid, food, and clothing from American Red Cross.

BERNE — With the heat and flames trapped by layers of building materials, the inside of a small white house on a rural road was destroyed by fire on Thursday morning.

Richard Guilz Jr., District Chief for Berne, said he believes a kerosene heater was left on too close to furniture.

“It really should be in the center of an open room with nothing around it,” Guilz said of kerosene heaters, which he said the homeowner used after running out of heating fuel; she was working in Albany as firefighters first arrived.

According to the town tax roll, Stephanie Slater owns the home, at 1453 Cass Hill Road; she could not be reached for comment.

The call came in around 8:20 a.m., reported by someone driving by the home on Cass Hill Road, said Guilz. The first sheriff’s deputy to arrive said it was producing heavy smoke and fire.

“It was a very challenging fire because the house was older and had a lot of partitions and remodeling done through the years, which added layers of building materials,” said Guilz.

Firefighers from East Berne, Westerlo, and Onesquethaw responded, and additional water was brought from New Salem.

The fire was suppressed within 15 minutes and completely out in an hour, Guilz said. Firefighters were delayed going into the house because cutting through the roof to ventilate the flames and chemicals took so long.

“It appeared that the original subroof, the tongue-and-groove boards, were covered over with plywood, on top of those tongue-and-groove boards, with layers of shingles,” said Guilz. He said the house will likely need to be torn down.

— Marcello Iaia

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