By Susan Monteleone
COCHECTON CENTER August 20, 2004 An early morning fire near Cochecton Center has left Lisa Haas and her four children homeless.
The 2 a.m. fire on Monday, which seems to have begun in the basement near the fuse box in her two-story Cape Cod home, is still under investigation.
Haas recalled the horrific night.
"I was sleeping, and my friend Bobby [Sheppard] and I heard the smoke alarms going off. They are battery-operated and linked to one another, she said tearfully. The next thing I knew, Bobby took a blanket and tied it to the window and climbed down and then called to me to jump. I was scared, but I did it.
Added Sheppard, "When we looked around the house, it was just full of smoke, and I knew we had to get out. I climbed down and called to Lisa to jump. She did, and somehow I caught her, and we ran to the neighbors to call 911 since our power was out."
Haas noted that she would not be here if it was not for the smoke alarms and the fire departments.
"There is no way to thank all of the fire personnel and emergency service people who came here to help us. The fog was bad, the smoke from the house was bad, and they were here right away."
Haas added, "We have a pet cat, and we looked for her and could not find her, and the fire personnel found the cat and gave the cat oxygen. She is still here, as well as one of our fish. We managed to also get our other dogs out.
All of the people that were here were so wonderful we could never thank them enough."
Haas' four children, who range in age from 15 to 4, were not home when the fire broke out, but Haas noted that she recently purchased school supplies for the children, which are now lost, as well as new school clothes.
"I just received five full boxes of clothes, and they are all gone, as well as the kids school things. I really do not know what we are going to do now," cried Haas.
Haas noted that there was no homeowners insurance on the house.
The Lake Huntington-Cochecton Fire Department responded to the call, as well as the Narrowsburg Fire Department, Lava Fire Department, Callicoon Fire Department, Jeffersonville Fire Department, Kenoza Lake Fire Department, and Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department, along with the Cochecton Ambulance and its Ladies Auxiliary.
The day after, the Cochecton Ambulance Corps began relief efforts. Member Eric Bunch noted that the family is in need of many items, including clothing and school supplies.
Bunch, who operates Paesanos Pizzeria in Lake Huntington, has opened the restaurants doors to anyone who would like to help the family with donations. Money donations are also being accepted by mail at 6900 State Route 52, Cochecton, New York 12726, attention Haas Family Relief Fund; and clothing and other items can be dropped off at the restaurant on Crestwood Road in Lake Huntington.
Bunch noted that whats needed are girl sizes 10 to 12 and girl miss sizes 14 to 16. Boy sizes are needed in 6 and boys adult small. Pants size was unavailable at press time. Haas wears a womens medium to large and pants around size 12.
"The family just went out and purchased their backpacks, and they were lost in the fire, as well as the needed school supplies. It has been a extremely hard loss for the family, and anything that the community would like to donate to the family would be extremely appreciated," stated Bunch.
For further information on how to help the family, call Bunch at the restaurant at 932-9100.