posted on October 26, 2011 09:25
Chuck and Ellie Lathan are without a house today, after fire destroyed theirs only twenty minutes after they'd left for work.
"It's terrible," says neighbor Pete Tucci. "They're great neighbors, really sweet people...and they've lost everything."
The complete destruction was apparent at the scene, where only the outer shell of the Route 5 home remained. Assistant Fire Chief Tom Woods said the roof had caught on fire, then collapsed onto the second floor. Then, all of that caved in and landed on the first floor.
The initial dispatch report had one person possibly trapped inside the house. That was reported by Pete Tucci, who saw Chuck Lathan's pick-up in the driveway and assumed he was home.
"I grabbed the phone and wanted to get in there...I wanted to try to get to the door, but there was no way I could even get near to the house," Tucci said. He later found out that Chuck was safely on his way to work. Meanwhile, firefighters instructed Pete to begin emptying his house, which is mere feet from the Lathan's.
Firefighters sprayed Tucci's house to keep it cool, and he says they saved it from destruction.
Assistant Chief Woods says the cause of the fire is unclear. Investigations continue this afternoon.
"I wouldn't say either way," said Woods, when asked if the fire had been burning long before crews' arrival. "I drove by here twenty minutes earlier, and there was nothing going on."
The house itself is being demolished to prevent any further damage to its surroundings.
TOP PHOTO (by Geoff Redick): House destroyed by fire on Rt. 5/West Main Rd.
A working house fire in LeRoy has blocked traffic on West Main Rd. between West Main St. and East Bethany - LeRoy Road. Several volunteer fire companies are at the scene.
The call came in at 8:30 this morning. Initial reports feared that persons were in the house, but it was later learned that everyone inside got out safely.
Firefighters are conducting an exterior attack only.
Fire companies from Bergen, Pavilion, Stafford and Town of Batavia have also responded.
The fire is now out, according to LeRoy Fire Command.
Fire companies that responded in Mutual Aid are returning to their fire halls.
AT RIGHT (from listener):Smoke from the fire on West Main Rd. was visible from the Tops Market parking lot in LeRoy