Greigsville home lost to fire
A fire in the hamlet of Greigsville resulted in the total loss of a two story wood frame house on Saturday, Aug. 7. The emergency call to 3556 Main Street in the Town of York was received at 7:32 a.m.
Responding companies were York, Cuylerville, Leicester, Caledonia and Geneseo with four additional departments moving to stand-by.
Firefighters attempted an interior attack on both floors, combined with a search to determine that there were no occupants, while the Geneseo pumper implemented an aerial attack. The old balloon frame construction of the house, lacking all fire stops, unfortunately promoted swift spread of the blaze throughout the structure.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department assisted in contacting the occupants and owner.
The house had an upstairs and downstairs apartment. The upstairs was occupied by Jeff Fararenci. Downstairs was Joe and Patrice DeMunn and their three children. Property owner was Tom Gates.
The building was insured through Tompkins. Upstairs had renters’ insurance; downstairs did not.
Livingston County Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Niedermaier’s post-fire examination of the premises determined that the fire’s origin was in a first floor bedroom in the rear of the structure, off the kitchen. Niedermaier was assisted in the investigation by fire inspectors Tom McGory and Jerry Gehrig.
When the fire started, the DeMunns were on their way to Schenectady, to pick up their twin sons from camp, and had left the house about 5:10 a.m. Upstairs was also not occupied, Fararenci having left for work.
A six-outlet power strip was plugged into a wall outlet in the rear bedroom. A short circuit was discovered in an extension cord connecting the strip and an air conditioner. Other likely short circuits were in the power outlet box and the strip itself — and possibly in a lamp which was also plugged into the strip. All six outlets in the strip were connected to appliances, including, besides the air conditioner and lamp, a television, computer, xBox and wii.
“It was an overloaded system.” Niedermaier said.
“One element in the sequence failed first. More than likely it was the power strip,” he suspects. The air conditioner was off when the fire started, but power was still in the system, evidenced by the short in the connecting extension cord. Niedermaier advises that persons leaving their house and concerned about their air conditioning circuitry should simply unplug the unit.
The fire scenario is remarkably similar to that which recently caused the loss of a home on Sutton Road in Avon, in which a strip was overloaded with computer equipment.
Niedermaier advises all home occupants using strips to invest in high quality products with surge protection.
“If they are used correctly, power strips can safely perform,” he states.
However, old or cheap strips with simple on/off switches should be discarded. The better quality strips will also protect your appliances in the event of electrical power surges caused by grid anomalies or lightning.
No people were injured, but two dogs perished. Several other dogs confined in kennels near the house did escape. Also saved were a motorcycle in the garage and assorted smaller items inside, but the house and most of its contents were a total loss.
The occupants were assisted in their shelter, clothing and food needs by the Northern Livingston County Chapter of the American Red Cross.