The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

April 30, 2013

Fire victim remembered as 'good kid'

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — Craig A. Gohl, 11, liked baseball, school and singing in church, according to his great-aunt, and he liked to spend time with his father and grandmother.

But most of all, he seemed to enjoy playing with other children, Darleen Reynolds of Bainbridge, said.

“Craig was character. … a good kid,” Reynolds said Monday. “He talked to everybody.”

Craig and his father, Nathan J. Herbert, 45, and Herbert’s girlfriend, Anna M. Ebert, 54, died Saturday in a fire at their 103 Warren Lane trailer home in the town of Afton.

Fire investigators determined that the fire started with smoking materials in a couch in the living room, state police at Sidney said in a media release, and autopsies determined that the three residents died of asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

About 20 firefighters from Afton and Bainbridge responded to the scene, Matthew Beckwith, Chenango County fire coordinator, said Monday. The fire was reported at about 11:35 p.m. separately by a neighbor and a passerby traveling on state Route 7, he said, and Afton crews had knocked down the fire by about midnight.

An investigation revealed that the fire was accidental, Beckwith said. However, the house had no smoke detector, which he said might have given the residents enough advanced warning to get out as the smoking materials smoldered.

Beckwith urged residents who cannot afford smoke detectors to contact their local fire chief, who will contact the county for assistance.

“We can provide them with smoke detectors,” Beckwith said. “Fires are bad enough but much worse when there is a loss of life.”

Relatives of Craig and Herbert, including Craig’s mother, Agnieszka Gohl, are taking the deaths “pretty hard,’’ Reynolds said Monday. Herbert’s relations included two adult daughters and a son, Reynolds said, and Herbert’s granddaughter, Isabella, 5, doted on Craig. Reynolds said Herbert and Ebert didn’t associate with the family much.

A funeral for Herbert and Craig will be held at the First Baptist Church in Bainbridge, the church Craig attended, said Reynolds, who is a member there. Calling hours will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday with the service to follow.

Reynolds said she had heard about the fire on the scanner Saturday night but didn’t recognize the address mentioned.

“We didn’t know it was them,’’ Reynolds said.

Beckwith said fire investigators found no indication of accelerants used at the scene, and arson was ruled out. Cigarette butts were found in and around the couch, he said, but it couldn’t be confirmed who was smoking. The couch was made of flame-retardant materials, but the foam inside was of toxic substance, Beckwith said, and the smoldering continued as the residents slept before fire broke out. Portions of the trailer remained after the fire, but it’s no longer habitable, he said.

Also under state code, he said, landlords are required to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Beckwith said he didn’t know who owned the trailer where Herbert and his family lived, but the land was owned by someone else.

State police Capt. James E. Barnes said the investigation into the fire continues because three people died, but he had no further comment about the case Monday.