By Paul Hemmer
MONTICELLO January 27, 2004 Nearly 100 firefighters from Monticello and many neighboring departments battled a stubborn blaze in sub-zero temperatures at Camp Shalva on the Thompsonville Road on Friday.
According to Monticello Fire Chief Mike Bastone, Fallsburg police initiated the alarm while on patrol on the Thompsonville road.
After receiving the call, the E-911 Center dispatched Monticello fire department to the scene at 7:39 a.m.
"Our first due engine arrived to find the front left side of the building fully involved in flame and heavy smoke." Bastone said.
The camp, which is closed for the winter, was unoccupied except for caretaker Burt Dymond who lives at the camp year-round with his wife, Heather, and their two children.
The Dymonds living quarters were in a section of the burning building that firefighters were able to prevent from being consumed in flames. The family and their two dogs escaped the flames unharmed, but were displaced due to extensive smoke damage and loss of electric and heat.
The Red Cross assisted the Dymonds with temporary lodging at an area hotel, and we were able to recover many of their belongings which only received some smoke," said Bastone.
Upon his arrival, Bastone called for mutual aid assistance to the scene as firefighters stretched hand lines inside the structure to battle the flames head on.
"At first we called for tankers to shuttle water to the scene, but then decided to lay a 5-inch supply line instead," he said. "Fallsburg fire department laid their 5-inch line from the scene to a hydrant in front of the Raleigh Hotel.
They were able to supply us with the water we needed, so we sent the tankers back, Bastone continued. Sometime during the course of the operation we had to pull out our interior attack teams due to a temporary failure of the supply line.
"In the time it took to restore the flow of water, the fire gained ground on us, and we had to go to an exterior attack," he concluded.
Bastone also indicated that the age and construction of the building, which included many additions and renovations, as well as the bitter weather conditions all contributed in hindering fire suppression efforts.
Firefighters continued their battle well into the afternoon. With the aid of Monticellos ladder truck, they continued to fight the fire with an exterior attack.
According to Bastone it took nearly three and a half hours to finally bring the fire under control.
Mendel Goldberg, a spokesman for the camp, was contacted by fire officials from the scene and once apprised of the situation arranged for an excavator to assist in tearing the structurally compromised structure apart so firefighters could put out several stubborn hot spots once and for all.
Besides Monticello, firefighters from Fallsburg, Forestburgh, Hurleyville, Liberty, Rock Hill and Smallwood/Mongaup Valley were also at the scene with numerous standbys in stations in the surrounding area.
"We also had a unit with one medic and two EMTs from MobileMedic at the scene most all day," said Bastone, "Fallsburg DPW also assisted in sanding the road during the day, and the county DPW came in and cleared the roadway completely after we left the scene."
Bastone stated that the sanding and road clearing efforts were a result of the massive amounts of water used in fighting the blaze and the freezing temperatures which produced sheets of ice on various parts of the roadway in and around the fire scene.
"Although the building was a loss, the caretaker and his family escaped unharmed and there were no firefighters injured during the operation, said Bastone.