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April 29, 2013

Oneonta fire leaves couple homeless

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — Fire in a second-floor room at 34 Watkins Ave. left a couple temporarily homeless, fire officials said Sunday. 

Dr. Howard and Bunny Joseph weren’t home when a neighbor called 911 at 8:41 a.m. Sunday to report seeing smoke from the second floor, said Jeff Pidgeon, a firefighter. Fire investigators determined that the blaze was accidental and of electrical origin, he said.

Upon arriving at the scene, smoke could be seen through the front second-floor bedroom window, which had blown out, Pidgeon said, and a few minutes later, fire was visible.

Crews, who didn’t know if anyone was home, broke through the front door and took a hose upstairs and conducted multiple checks to make sure no one was in the bedrooms or elsewhere in the house, Pidgeon said. 

Crews knocked down the fire in the second-floor bedroom, he said, and covered furniture on the first floor with tarps to protect items from further water damage.

Pidgeon said 21 Oneonta firefighters were either at the scene or at the station. 

All Oneonta crews were called in, Pidgeon said. West Oneonta and Otego departments, plus firefighter assistance teams from Worcester, Sidney and Franklin also were called, he said, but the call was canceled after the blaze was declared under control at 9:01 a.m.

Oneonta crews responded to a rekindle at 11:41 a.m. after embers had dropped underneath the front bedroom window and began to smolder, Pidgeon said. To check for hot spots, crews opened up the wall in that window area, he said, as well as the living room ceiling on the first floor underneath the bedroom.

Pidgeon said someone went to notify the Josephs about the fire, and the couple returned home. The couple will be staying with local relatives, he said.