One resident suffered burn injuries after a fire consumed a two-family home Monday evening on Maple Street, according to the Cortland Fire Department. The injuries appeared non-life-threatening and no firefighters were hurt in the blaze, said Chief Wayne Friedman.
The resident was taken to an area hospital by TLC Emergency Medical Services ambulance, Friedman said. The home at 35 Maple Avenue is uninhabitable and the Red Cross and family are sheltering the two couples who lost their homes, he said.
Firefighters were called to the duplex at about 7:30 p.m. after fire alarms started signalling and smoke was found, said Friedman. When Capt. Tom Casterline arrived at the scene, a fire was burning on the first floor back porch and spreading to the second floor porch, added Friedman.
As Casterline and his crew of firefighters battled the flames, strong winds fanned the fire into the attic where it turned into a blaze, he said.
With flames rising above them, firefighters went inside the house to the second floor and started to make progress extinguishing the fire, said Friedman. But then the wind whipped the flames up again and the firefighters were forced to evacuate, he said. Using the ladder truck, firefighters poured water onto the roof of 35 Maple Avenue as an inferno devoured its roof.
“The wind caused us havoc,” said Friedman. “Once the wind got into the attic, the fire spread quickly and we got into it.”
Pictures from the scene show flames leaping feet into the air as firefighters poured water from the ladder truck in frigid temperatures that left their turnout gear covered in ice.
The National Weather Service warned against cold Northwest winds blowing between 25 and 35 miles per hour, and gusting up to 55 miles per hour, on Monday night in Cortland. The temperature was 20 degrees at 9 p.m. in Cortland.
While the fire was under control by 8:30 p.m., Friedman stated around 9:30 p.m. that firefighters would likely be checking the sight and investigating throughout most of the night.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, but a portable kerosene heater on the first floor may have started the blaze, he said.
A man and a woman lived on the first floor and one of the couple was the injured occupant, according to the department. It was not clear which hospital that person was treated at Monday evening.
The man and woman living in the second floor apartment made it out safely with their pet dog, said Friedman.
Maple Avenue was closed and covered in ice from the water hoses at 10 p.m.
Firefighters from Homer and Cortlandville assisted at the scene and a ladder truck from Cortlandville was standing by at the 25 Court St. Fire Station should it be required. The Cortland Police Department also assisted firefighters and National Grid and NYSEG ensured the utilities were turned off.
Volunteers from the Cortland Fire Department Auxillary provided coffee and donuts to the firefighters.