Knox fire destroys home, hospitalizes woman

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

The remains of a home that burned down at the corner of Nash and Knox Cave roads lie beneath a blue sky on Tuesday morning hours after fire destroyed the single-story structure.

KNOX — An elderly woman, Kathleen O’Neill Perry, was hospitalized after a fire burned her small home on Nash Road in Knox to the ground Tuesday morning, according to Knox Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bill Vinson.

The fire company was called to the scene at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, April 16. When firefighters arrived, Vinson said, the owner and sole resident of the house was sitting on the side of the road in her nightgown. Vinson said the nightgown was her only possession not destroyed in the fire.

She was brought to Albany Medical Center by the Altamont Rescue Squad to be treated for smoke inhalation, said Vinson. O’Neill Perry, who is in her 70s, was flown later that morning to the Clark Burn Treatment Center at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and was taken to the intensive care unit there, said her daughter, Brenda LaMontagne, 47, of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.

“It was a complete shock,” she said, of learning of the fire from relatives this morning.

O’Neill Perry’s lungs and esophagus were both examined and it was determined that her lungs are in good condition but that her esophagus is swollen but she received no burns besides her hair being singed, her daughter said, adding that she is “on the mend” and is doing well.

“Hoping and praying her community can pull together for her,” LaMontagne wrote in a message on Facebook. “We are all deeply saddened by what she has endured.”

The fire must have been burning for hours before first responders arrived at the scene, Vinson said, as it was fully involved and the structure was virtually destroyed.

“It had already burned to the ground,” he said.

The house was a small, single-story wooden home, said Vinson. He said that it took around 45 minutes to knock down the fire externally using water, though the department remained at the scene for around four hours.

Everything O’Neill Perry owned was destroyed, he said, including her car, which was parked next to the house and was burned by the fire radiating out of the house. All that remains now is a pile of debris and some metal appliances like a woodstove and air conditioner.

O’Neill Perry, like one of the firefighters, is a member of St. Lucy/St. Bernadette Church in Altamont, Vinson said. Sister Mary Lou Liptak of the church said that those who want to help O’Neill Perry can send money to St. Lucy/St. Bernadette Church at Post Office Box 678, Altamont, New York 12009. The church cannot take donated items such as furniture at this time, she said.

Relatives said that a GoFundMe page has been set up online to raise money as well.

In addition to the Knox fire department and Altamont Rescue Squad, the Altamont Volunteer Fire Department was at the scene to provide manpower and a tanker truck; the Berne and East Berne Volunteer Fire Companies, and the Gallupville Fire Department were also at the scene to provide tankers, said Vinson.

Paramedics from the town of Guilderland’s Emergency Medical Services were also there, and an Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy was also at the scene for the duration of the fire, Vinson said.

The house, at 4 Nash Road, has a full market of $51,552, according to town assessment rolls. Fire investigators have so far been unable to determine the cause of the fire, said Vinson.


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