By Paul Hemmer
MONTICELLO The Monticello Fire Department was dispatched to a reported working structure fire on Hilltop Road outside the village around 7:10 p.m. this past Wednesday evening. Monticello Fire Department 2nd Assistant Chief Brian Soller was the first to arrive on the scene and found the unoccupied home of George Powell to be fully involved in flames.
"Fire was already rolling through the roof and blowing out the front window when I arrived," Soller said.
According to Chief Soller, Monticellos first-in engine laid a 5" supply line up Hilltop Road and into the driveway of the residence. Monticellos second-due engine set up for a fold-a-tank operation to feed the five-inch line on the corner of Hilltop and South Maplewood roads.
Initial attack teams advanced 1" lines to the rear of the structure and made entry through the back door to begin knocking down the intense blaze. Mutual aid was called to assist at the scene, and water was supplied with tankers from Rock Hill, Smallwood, White Lake, and Forestburgh fire departments. Rock Hills FAST Team was standing by at the scene, and an engine from Fallsburg and Loch Sheldrakes FAST Team stood by at Monticellos firehouse.
Soller estimated that it took the nearly 40 firefighters on the scene around 20 minutes to bring the blaze under control. Firefighters and equipment remained on the scene for nearly two hours, battling hot spots and flare-ups after the bulk of the fire was knocked down.
According to neighbors on the scene, the owner of the home, George Powell and his family, currently reside in Newburgh. Bob Trotta, who lives next door to the Powells, said that they had moved to another home there recently, although they were at the Monticello residence quite often, most recently during the Christmas holidays.
According to Chief Soller, the cause of the blaze had yet to be discovered while firefighters were still on the scene, and county fire investigators were called in to assist in determining its origins.
It is unknown what plans, if any, the Powells may have at this time.