KIANTONE - The local community has begun rallying around a family who lost their house in a fire Monday.
Menash Petscher, his wife Nicole and their three daughters, Madelyn, Lucy and Nora, ages 5 and 3 years old, and 6 months old, lost their home in a fire which occurred at 12:36 a.m. Monday morning at 1671 Martin Road.
According to Petscher, the community has stepped up to help them during the tragedy.
He attributes the family's escape to their dog, who woke him up and alerted him of the situation.
"It was Monday morning, I was sleeping with my daughter, she fell asleep on the couch, and my dog Nana, who died in the fire, came over and started licking my face and woke me up," he said.
He said when he awoke, he saw smoke coming from the kitchen and an orange glow.
"I got up and you can see from the kitchen to the fireplace room and saw that the room was on fire," he said.
Petscher said his wife was also awake upstairs nursing the baby and met him on the stairs as he was attempting to alert her and the children. The family was able to escape the house with nothing more than a blanket. Petscher said he was able to get his family into a vehicle and drive to the neighbor's, Verna Feathers, who then called 911.
"I ran back over to the house to go back inside to try to get Nana because she hadn't come out," he said. "I went back in there and there was so much smoke that I was just crawling and calling her name but it was just so hot and loud with the windows bursting. I crawled to the back into the room that was on fire and reached in and opened the door in case she was in that room she could run out and then it was too much, too hot in there and I ended up running back outside. From there I just watched the whole thing happen. The house went up really quick. From the time that we woke up, got out of the house, it was probably five to 10 minutes before the entire house was completely engulfed."
The Petscher family lost their St. Bernard, Nana, and two cats in the fire, while another dog, Riley, escaped.
The Kiantone Fire Department and the New York State Police arrived on the scene and attacked the blaze. According to Josh Ostrander, second assistant chief, when firefighters arrived, the single-family home was fully engulfed in flames. Assistance was requested from Frewsburg, Busti, Jamestown, Falconer, Celoron, Lakewood, Panama and Russell, Pa., fire departments. The house was a total loss. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental, caused by a fireplace in the family room.
The Petschers are currently staying with family in Cassadaga.
Petscher said many people stepped up and helped them not only during the fire, but in the days following. He wanted to thank neighbors Verna Feathers, Tim Galster, and Ryan and Jill Smith, who all provided help during the tragedy.
"They all were amazing people in this thing, they all just acted and came in and did what needed to be done," he said.
He also thanked Jamestown Pediatrics, which "made a large donation," he said.
Petscher said he is originally from Florida, and that the community mindset of helping each other is not prevalent there.
"I came from Florida and down there nobody cares, people don't rally around anybody ... if your neighbor's house is on fire you just hope it doesn't catch yours on fire, and it is just really amazing to see that people care up here," he said. "I don't know how we can possibly thank people. The community has just been so overwhelmingly amazing. It is a one in a million community, random people, strangers donating money and clothes and toys for the kids. It is just unbelievable."
The house was built in the 1800s, he said, and called the Martin House or Coffin House, because Merrill Coffin, a local artist resided in the home.
"The Coffins and their granddaughter Elizabeth Gleason ... they sent five of his paintings for us to put up in our new place in memory of it," he said.
Members of the public can donate to the family by visiting thepetschers.blogspot.com/2012/01/petschers-home-nana-hero.html, which is a Paypal donation site, set up by Petscher's family in Florida.
Jamestown Electric Supply, 2211 Washington St., Jamestown, is also accepting donations for the family. A donation box for money and clothing has been set up at the office. The phone number there is 664-2618.
Greg Smith, an employee of the company said his daughter asked them to set up a donation.
"My daughter baby-sits for their girls and has for two or three years, she is away at college and found out about it and called me and asked if there was anything we could do to help," he said.
Smith said the donation site has been inundated with clothing and toys for the children. He said they are currently in need of gift cards or cash donations to assist Menash and Nicole.
"We have been overwhelmed by clothing through the generosity of the community, which we appreciate immensely," said Smith. "I have a whole van full right now, our Jamestown Electric van, it is all full of stuff."
Items that have been donated that are unused by the family will be taken and donated to Community Helping Hands, he said.
The Southwestern NY American Red Cross Disaster Action Team responded to provide disaster relief to the family as well.
The Red Cross also responded to a house fire at 207 Columbus Street in Dunkirk on Sunday.
DAT volunteers Sue Shearer of Westfield, Patty Hartinger from Silver Creek, Donna and Charlie Meder of Stockton, Howard Crowell of Sinclairville, Mary Walker of Dunkirk, Shelley Saunders of Ashville, and Mary Ritchie of Jamestown, were on scene to provide the initial disaster assistance. Temporary housing, clothing, and meals are services typically offered to address emergency needs. The local Red Cross chapter will continue working with the families and their recovery process if additional services or referrals are necessary.
All disaster assistance offered by the American Red Cross is complimentary and made possible by contributions from the American people and residents of Chautauqua County. The United Way organizations of Chautauqua County also provide financial support to the local Red Cross mission.