CHAZY — A Ratta Road family homestead was saved from raging flames Saturday afternoon after a heavy volunteer response from firefighters across New York, Vermont and Canada.Cathy Henry and her two teenage sons were not home when the fire sparked around 12:10 p.m. and quickly tore through the rural farm property, destroying their small, two-story cattle barn and nearby equipment-storage building.
Family, friends and neighbors credit a quick response from local volunteers with saving the 282 Ratta Road home from the fierce flames that swept through the property as high winds blew through the surrounding open fields and fed the blaze.
Volunteers from 16 fire departments turned out to battle the midday fire, and Chazy Fire Chief Michael Cahoon credits their response with "an excellent save of the house."Manpower and equipment from the Chazy, Champlain, Mooers, Cumberland Head, Rouses Point, West Chazy, Beekmantown, District 3, Rescue Hose 5, Hemmingford, St. Bernard and Altona fire departments turned out to battle the blaze after a Schwan's delivery driver noticed the billowing smoke and called in the fire.Volunteers from Morrisonville, Isle Lamotte, Vt., Alburgh, Vt. and Lacolle, Quebec provided stand-by support at the Champlain and Chazy departments."All the responders did an excellent job and we were able to save the house," said Cahoon, adding that the widespread response made it easier to shuttle water from several miles away.
"When I got here, the small barn was fully engulfed and the fire was already getting into the house.""We looked over and the other barn was on fire, but our biggest concern was to save the house," Cahoon said Saturday afternoon as the thick billowing smoke began to clear from the smoldering outbuildings.Though the blaze tore through a small shed attached to the rear of the home, firefighters were able to quickly knock down the fire before it could spread through the rest of the white and green residence, which sustained heavy smoke and water damage.
"The firefighters were great. They saved the house. And it had been in the family for generations," said Chazy resident and family friend Mary Faye-McWhinnie."It was really a great save. The siren went off and not even a minute went by before the (Chazy) trucks were running and heading out. The Chazy department did a really great job."No one was injured in the blaze and firefighters were able to get the two family dogs, one of which was hiding in an upstairs bedroom, out of the residence upon their arrival. A scared tabby cat was later found hiding in an upstairs closet.
All of the beef cattle were outside at the time of the blaze and concerned neighbors soon herded them into trailers and sheltered them at nearby farms. Other neighbors and friends pooled together and worked to save equipment and family heirlooms."We're a really close-knit community and a lot of people turned out to help," added Chazy resident Lisa Goupil, adding that the thick black smoke could be seen for miles, prompting residents of all ages to rush to the home to help.Crews stayed at the residence through the afternoon soaking the smoldering ash and knocking down the charred and collapsing barns.Officials were continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze and initially believed it originated in the cattle barn.
"Everyone has really come together. People are just stopping by to see what they can do to help," Faye-McWhinnie said. "That's the great thing about living in a small community."