By Paul Hemmer
YANKEE LAKE February 6, 2001 - Wurtsboro Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire on Jersey Road in Yankee Lake shortly after 9 a.m. this past Saturday, and firefighters said the woman who was living there narrowly escaped with her life.
According to Wurtsboro Chief Tim Hughes, the home was fully involved when he came on the scene.
"There was fire coming out of all sides of the house when I arrived," said Hughes. "The flames were just ripping out the front of the house."
Reivy Mason, who lived at the residence, was asleep when the fire broke out.
"I woke up because I heard the smoke detector going off," said Mason. "I couldnt tell where the smoke was coming from. I got my dogs out, and then I went to check the back room where my cats were. When I opened the door, the room was full of black smoke and flames, and one cat came running out."
According to Mason, she then went to the front door and started calling for help. Next-door neighbor Mike Romand was alerted to the fire by his young daughter.
I was sleeping on the couch when I heard my little girl yelling, Fire! said Romand When I got up, I realized that she was talking about the house next door. I looked out the window and saw flames shooting out of the rear of the house.
Romand called the fire in and then instructed Mason to move her car so the responding fire apparatus could get to the house.
"I told her to move her car and not to go back in the house," said Romand. "By that time, the flames were rolling out the front window."
According to Chief Hughes, Wurtsboros first-due engine laid a four-inch supply line up the narrow icy road and set up for initial attack. Their second-due engine pumped relay, and a tanker shuttle was set up on the corner of Yankee Lake Road and Jersey Road to supply water to the scene.
"We set up an exterior attack and advanced two-inch and three-quarter lines to the front of the house and a two and a half-inch line to the side," said Hughes. "We had the fire knocked down in around 30 minutes."
Firefighters continued to battle the stubborn blaze for nearly three hours before it was completely extinguished.
According to Chief Hughes, mutual aid was called from several neighboring departments. Westbrookville and Bloomingburg assisted at the scene with tankers and manpower, Rock Hill responded to the scene with a tanker and Summitville stoodby in Wurtsboros quarters with one pumper and manpower. Mamakating First Aid Squad was also standing by at the scene.
No injuries were reported to either Mason or any of the firefighters on the scene. Although Mason managed to get both of her dogs and one of her cats out of the house, she didnt know if the other cat made it out on its own or not. It turned out that firefighters rescued the other feline from another part of the house.
Chief Hughes credited a well-known device in Masons home with saving her life. As he talked with Mason at the conclusion of the incident, he stated, "If it wasnt for your smoke detector, you wouldnt have made it out alive."
Mason wholeheartedly agreed.
Despite the valiant efforts of the firefighters on the scene Masons home was a total loss. According to Chief Hughes, the exact cause of the blaze has not been determined, and it is currently under investigation. The Sullivan County chapter of the American Red Cross was called to assist Mason, who lost everything she owned in the blaze. It is not known what future plans Mason has at this time.