Whipping winds and frigid temperatures created tricky conditions for fire crews in the area who worked to battle an overnight two-alarm fire that tore through an area home and garage and claimed the life of a family dog.
Crews in Dutchess County from the Arlington Fire District responded to a Vassar Road home near the Red Oaks Mill fire station shortly after 3 a.m. on Monday, March 15, where there was a report of a garage fire, Chief William Steenbergh said.
Upon arrival minutes later, Steenbergh said that not only was the garage on fire, but the blaze had spread to the main house, which was engulfed in flames, prompting a call for a second alarm.
Steenbergh said that the home was occupied by seven adults of varying ages who were awoken by the smoke detectors ringing and attempting to escape the home when the first fire crews arrived at the scene.
Some of the residents were also found attempting to climb through small basement windows as the fire’s progression blocked access to the stairs and exterior door.
Steenbergh noted that temperatures were in the low 20s with high winds, including gusts over 25 mph as crews attempted to knock down the flames.
The fire took more than an hour to get under control, and all seven residents declined medical attention, though a family dog remains unaccounted for and is believed to be a victim of the fire.
According to Steenbergh, the home sustained extensive damage and is likely inhabitable. No injuries were reported by any firefighters.
Fire crews from Arlington were assisted at the scene of the fire by the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Mobile Life Support Services, Town of Poughkeepsie Building Department, Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, Dutchess County Highway Department, and Central Hudson Gas & Electric.
The investigation into the fire determined that it originated in garbage cans outside that were up against the house and garage. The fire then spread first to the garage and then to the residence.
Steenbergh said that as the exterior windows failed from exposure to heat and flames, the high wind conditions pushed the flames into the residence.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by fire investigators, but is not considered suspicious.
“Many homes have basement windows that are too small for a person to escape through, or too close to the ceiling to reach,” Steenbergh said. ”Specifically designed exit windows will safely allow for both adults and children to safely escape.”
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