By Ted Waddell
KENOZA LAKE December 24, 2004 At 2:49 p.m. on Monday, the call went out: an old farmhouse at 156 Old Taylor Road in Kenoza Lake was on fire.
In sub-zero weather with a windchill factor that caused streams of water to freeze on contact with helmets, faces and virtually all exposed surfaces, about 30 local volunteer firefighters responded to the blaze at the house reportedly owned by Dan Sanabria.
The residence was unoccupied at the time of the fire.
"The weather conditions were definitely difficult," said John Girrbach, chief of the Kenoza Lake Fire Department.
"We had some problems with trucks freezing up, but for the most part, things went pretty well," he added.
Chief Girrbach said that while turnout gear keeps firefighters relatively warm in such nasty conditions, if your gloves get wet, "it makes it really difficult and painful."
In addition to Kenoza Lake, the following departments responded to the scene: Protection Hose Company #1 of Jeffersonville, Lake Huntington, Kauneonga Lake, White Sulphur Springs, White Lake and North Branch.
The Jeffersonville Volunteer First Aid Corps also responded.
Fire departments on standby included Callicoon and Youngsville.
With a quick knockdown, the freezing firefighters saved the structure, although there was severe fire and water damage.
Using a thermal imaging camera acquired last year through a Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) grant, Captain Dale Steffens and 2nd Assistant Chief Jason Welton of North Branch VFD discovered several hot spots hidden in the walls.
"I think they did a hell of a job knocking it down," said Steffens of his fellow firefighters. "I give them a lot of credit."
Chief Girrbach said the fire "appeared to have been caused by heat tape wrapped around a kitchen pipe in an exterior wall."
"As near as we can tell, that's where it started, but it had been smoldering awhile," he added. "We appreciate the help from the other companies."