Altamont firefighters raise $5K for burned-out families

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Future firefighter? Jack Sullivan, 5, center, sprays water towards the Bullex smoke and fire machine to get a feeling what firefighters Gabrielle Norfleet, foreground, and Captain Tommy Tubbs, behind Jack, do on a daily basis when the tones drop.

ALTAMONT — Altamont firefighters raised about $5,500 at Friday’s open house, which they plan to give to three families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by recent fires.

The open house, with hot sub sandwiches, had initially been planned to support the volunteer department, but the firefighters decided to help the families whose homes they had rushed to save.

“It just felt right to try to help the families that have been hit so hard lately,” said Paul Miller, Altamont’s fire chief.

“It was a busy night,” Miller said of Friday’s open house. “We had a lot of people, more than 10 years put together,” he said of typical open-house turnout.

Miller said he was gratified by the “outpouring of support from the community.”

The families whose homes were damaged are: renters in a two-family house at 16 Marian Ct., where a bathroom fan caught on fire on Sept. 20; Tom and Sally Ketchum, whose home at 3935 Western Tpke. in Guilderland was badly damaged in a late-night fire on Sept. 27; and Paul and Theresa Oliver, whose home at 6051 Gardner Rd. in Guilderland was a total loss in an early-morning fire Oct. 11.

Miller said the firefighters will decide how to distribute the funds at their next meeting.

Another fundraiser will be held by the Olivers’ four adult children to help their parents get back on their feet. That fundraiser will be Oct. 23. at 1 p.m. at the American Legion Post in Altamont. The event will feature, said son David Filkins, food, a pig roast, raffle items, and music.

Filkins said that friends and community members have been extremely supportive and have come forward to ask how they can help. The family has also set up a fundraising page, at

The Olivers run a home-based business, PTO Trucking Incorporated, a trucking and shipping business, Filkins said. His mother does the logistics and data entry, and his stepfather does the driving. The computers and business records were all destroyed in the fire, but the business’s truck and trailer were not damaged.

“Fortunately,” Filkins said, “they are always parked halfway down the driveway.”



The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Dishing up tasty subs: Altamont firefighter Larry Grant, foreground, serves up a meatball sub with French fries to a customer while Katie King prepares the next sub for Grant to make.


Paul and Theresa Oliver, Filkins said, are staying with his grandparents, who live on a farm next door to the Olivers’ burned home. That way, Filkins said, they can leave their truck parked in their own driveway. “They plan to start working again next week,” said Filkins.

The Olivers told The Enterprise that they have insurance and will rebuild on the same land. “We wouldn’t leave here,” Theresa Oliver said the day of the fire. “This is family land.”

“They’re plugging along,” said Filkins this week. “They’re figuring things out they didn’t even know they had to do — taking one piece of the puzzle at a time.”

He concluded, “They’re not sulking or basking in the loss; they’re pushing forward with vigor.”

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