Party Saturday at Conkling Hall will help victims of fire

RENSSELAERVILLE — In the wake of a Jan. 15 fire in the hamlet that gutted Richard Platel’s century-old home, the community is rallying to set up a Fire Fund.

Organizers say the fund will offer quick financial assistance to those who have experienced a disaster. Funds will be available to the victims of the recent fire and those of future disasters as needed.

Five fire companies battled the blaze at Platel’s home. Robert Tanner, chief of the Rensselaerville Volunteer Fire Company, described events unfolding this way.

At about a quarter to three on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 15, someone saw smoke and called for help.

“We had apparatus and personnel there probably within three minutes,” said Tanner. He said last week that no determination on the cause of the fire had been made.

The initial attack was through the exterior, and then firefighters entered the building to put out hot spots. Fire companies from Medusa, Tri-Village, East Berne, and Berne helped in addition to Rensselaerville.

No people were hurt but the family’s pet dog died. “We tried to resuscitate but to no avail,” said Tanner.

The two-story balloon-framed building was “fully involved,” said Tanner. He said the house was gutted but an addition was saved.

Platel, who does carpentry and general contracting for a living, plans to rebuild, Tanner said. Platel could not be reached for comment.

“I was very impressed,” said Tanner of the volunteers’ work. “I thought everybody did a good job.”

Rensselaerville Fire Fund

The fundraising will kick off on Saturday, Jan. 31, at Conkling Hall at 8 Methodist Hill Road. From 6 to 9 p.m., food and music will be provided. The Rensselaerville Historic District Association will provide wine, beer, and soft drinks.

Admission is listed as “a generous donation, minimum $20, cash or check only.”

Many individuals and organizations are supporting the event, including the Palmer House Café, local farmers donating food, area musicians performing for free, the Rensselaerville Volunteer Fire Company and Ladies' Auxiliary, the town library, the Rensselaerville Historic District Association, and Conkling Hall.

Those who want to help — by setting up, cleaning up, or contributing to the costs of the dinner — may call the town library at 797-3949.

— Reporting by Marcello Iaia

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