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April 5, 2013

Woman sustains burns in house fire

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — A 90-year-old woman who tried to rescue her dog and two cats from her burning Oneonta home Thursday morning was taken to the hospital for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation, the fire chief said Thursday.

Betty Clark was admitted to A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta for observation and was in stable condition, a nursing supervisor said Thursday night.

Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon said the dog perished, and the two cats were missing and presumed dead.

The accidental fire started after Clark, owner of 348 Chestnut St., turned on her gas range, and cardboard boxes were too near the stove and caught fire, Pidgeon said. About 60 firefighters responded to the 9:13 a.m. call, to the scene or on standby, he said.

Two men driving by in separate cars saw the fire and that Clark was still inside, Pidgeon said, and they stopped to help her. She didn’t want to leave because of concern for her pets, the chief said, but the unidentified men eventually coaxed her away from her home and took her to a neighbor’s porch or front steps.

“We would like to thank them for their efforts,’’ Pidgeon said. Firefighters then treated Clark at the scene, he said. She initially didn’t want to go to the hospital, but crews convinced her to seek further medical attention for minor to moderate burns and smoke inhalation, the chief said, and she was taken by ambulance to Fox Hospital.

Clark may have tried to put out the blaze in the kitchen, which became fully involved, Pidgeon said, and the blaze rose into the second floor and also significantly damaged a small room upstairs. Two rooms next to the kitchen also were damaged, he said.

The house isn’t habitable but probably can be repaired, the Oneonta chief said, and Clark’s two daughters met up with their mother and are taking care of her.

Passers-by had called in the fire, Pidgeon said. Twenty-three Oneonta firefighters were assisted at the scene by about 10 West Oneonta and eight Otego firefigters, plus 19 Fire Assist and Search Team members from Franklin, Worcester and Sidney, the Oneonta chief said.

Laurens Fire Department crews and a Worcester ambulance were at the Oneonta station, Pidgeon said, and fire coordinators from Otsego and Delaware counties helped at the scene.

Oneonta crews arrived at the scene at 9:20 a.m., and the fire was under control at 10:20 a.m., Pidgeon said. City crews were back in service at the station at 12:20 p.m., he said. An Oneonta firefighter dislocated a shoulder while cleaning equipment at the station, but he only will miss the remained of his shift, Pidgeon said.