Two dead following house fire
By Darren Marcy
NORTH GRANVILLE, N.Y. -- Two people are dead following a house fire in North Granville early Thursday morning.
Firefighters were called about 12:20 a.m. and arrived to find the two story house at 543 Route 12 fully involved and already starting to collapse.
“It was fully involved and on the ground,” said Chief Scott McCullen of the North Granville Fire Department. “It was gone before we got the call.”
McCullen said neighbors heard an explosion that alerted them to the blaze but it’s not known how long the fire had been burning before it was discovered.
The bodies of two people were taken from the remains of the home late Thursday morning, but have not been positively identified.
They’ll be transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital for a forensic autopsy, said Senior Investigator Bruce Hamilton of the Washington County Sheriff Office.
Hamilton said the bodies were badly burned making a positive identification difficult, requiring a forensic pathologist to conduct the autopsy.
The house was owned by Lee and Dema Martin, a couple believed to be in their late 70s or early 80s.
Gail West lives just up the road from the scene of the fire and have known the Martins her entire life.
She said the couple raised their children in that house and had lived there more than 50 years that she knew of and probably longer.
“They were country folk,” West said. “They were neighborly and generous. I’m really sorry about the whole thing. It’s very sad.”
Hamilton said the investigation into the fire is ongoing, but there was nothing to indicate the fire was suspicious.
McCullen said the cause of the fire would also be left undetermined for now pending the investigation.
The chief said there were multiple suspects for the fire’s source including a wood stove, electric heaters and a furnace.
“We can’t pinpoint exactly what did start this,” McCullen said. “There’s nothing there to work with. We’re going to leave it open.”
The fire is being investigated by the Washington County Bureau of Fire Investigators and the New York State fire investigator.
The chief said it took firefighters about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the scene, which is about three miles from the station, due to manpower and roads, then firefighters were facing electric lines across the driveway, which delayed the attack on the fire even further.
“Everything was against us,” McCullen said. “It was a slow go because of the road conditions and manpower is always an issue at that time of the night.”
Eventually more than 100 firefighters were involved from 17 different departments in Vermont and New York.
Water had to be shuttled in from eight miles away to fill portable water tanks at the scene and McCullen said keeping enough water flowing through the engines to keep from freezing was a challenge at times.
“In my 20 years I’ve never called for tankers from that distance,” he said. “They came from 30 miles away.”
Fire crews remained on the scene until about 10:30 a.m.