Owner of home that went up in flames after crash grateful for quick work of firefighters

— Still frame from video posted on Tri-Village Fire Co. Inc. Facebook page

The first arriving engine captured a video of the house at 3180 Route 145 engulfed in flames as firefighters Nathan Wood, Warren Bashwinger, and Stephanie Rickert fought the blaze, getting water on the fire in less than 10 minutes from the 9-1-1 call, according to the Tri-Village Fire Co. Inc. Facebook page.

RENSSELAERVILLE — A home in Rensselaerville was ignited early Sunday morning by an SUV that crashed into it.

Tri-Village Volunteer Fire Company Chief Dennis Wood told The Enterprise that the company got the call at 1:05 a.m. and had it “under control” within the half-hour, clearing the scene entirely around 5:00 a.m.

Although there were no serious injuries — thanks in part to an off-duty paramedic from Greene County who helped get all the victims away from the fire — the house and vehicle were each a total loss, Wood said.

“The occupants of the house lost everything and escaped with only the clothes they were wearing,” he said, adding that it was a weekend home owned by New York City residents. 

The town’s assessment roll shows the 26-acre property with a house and barn at 3180 Route 145, valued at $119,005, is owned by Anthony Esposito of Long Island City, which is in Queens.

Esposito told The Enterprise this week, as he was on his way back to New York City, that he and his wife were upstairs in the home when the SUV rammed through the front of the house, throwing him off the futon that he had been half-asleep on while watching TV. 

“I came to immediately. I was like, ‘Holy sh-t, I knew this was going to happen,” he said, explaining that the house is on a bend that people tend to speed through. In fact, about a decade ago, another car had run onto the property, coming to a stop in a runoff ditch, he said.

Wood told The Enterprise that the cause of the accident is currently under investigation by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, which did not answer Enterprise inquiries. 

At first, the flames coming from the engine were light, Esposito said, but the smoke was building quickly and he recognized the smell of toxic fumes so he helped his wife past the dining room table that had been slammed against the stairs and out of a window. 

Esposito followed, took a deep breath of fresh air, then went back in to get essential items and try to put what was still only a minor fire out. However, it wasn’t long before the fire spread to the walls, but by then his wife had managed to flag down a couple driving by — the paramedic, and his girlfriend, whom Esposito believes is a state trooper. They were able to help convince the driver and her passenger to leave the vehicle. 

“The guy that was the occupant of the vehicle, for some reason, jumped into my house and he was trying to tell the woman to back the car out,” Esposito said, pointing out that this would have made the building collapse on them. 

A full-time high-rise construction worker, Esposito said that he’s accustomed to stressful situations, which proved helpful during the episode. 

“I was always taught that, if you panic, you lose control, and that’s how you die,” he said. 

Esposito said that the fire department arrived quickly enough to save a barn on the property, which is more valuable to him than the house because it contains irreplaceable memorabilia. 

Still, the loss of the house is difficult, he said, because this summer would have marked the 30th anniversary since his late father bought it. 

His father died five-and-a-half years ago. “Before he passed away, I said, ‘Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll take care of your place,’” Esposito said. His mother died two-and-a-half years ago, and the barn was where Esposito stored many of their belongings. 

“I was so grateful for not losing the barn,” he said. 

Esposito was especially thankful for the Wood family in particular, since they took in him and his wife and gave them everything they needed in the aftermath of the fire, which had consumed their wallets and phones.

It also was a chance reunion of sorts, because the Wood family was “on the scene to save my father’s life before he passed away” from organ failure during surgery after a series of heart attacks several years ago, Esposito said.

“They gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to my dad, so I got to thank them for that,” he said. 

As for the property, Esposito said he’s still communicating with the insurance company but believes that the company will provide temporary lodging on the site while the Espositos rebuild the house. 

“We love it up here,” he said. “It’s our little slice of heaven. We come up here pretty much every weekend.”

And the outpouring from the community so far has reinforced their love for the town.

“It’s not just the scenery, it’s not just the peace of mind, it’s the neighbors as well,” he said.


More Hilltowns News

  • The Rensselaerville Post Office is expected to move to another location within the 12147 ZIP code, according to a United States Postal Service flier, and the public is invited to submit comments on the proposal by mail. 

  • The Enterprise reported in November that the building at 1628 Helderberg Trail was falling, with some material going into the Fox Creek. The creek is considered by the New York State Department of Conservation to be a “Class C waterbody with trout spawning standards.” 

  • Anthony Esposito, who lost his house along State Route 145 in Rensselaerville when an SUV crashed into it, setting it on fire, said he had made several requests for guide rails because he had long been concerned about cars coming off the road. The New York State Department of Transportation said that it has no record of any requests.

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