Susan Hallock | Democrat
THE BURNED OUT remains of the house where Catherine Novak was found dead on Saturday morning. Novak, a mother of two, was found in the basement area.
Fire claims life in Narrowsburg
By Jeanne Sager
NARROWSBURG An early morning fire has claimed the life of a well-known Narrowsburg area mom.
New York State Police have confirmed they believe the body found inside a house consumed by flames early Saturday is that of Catherine Novak, mother of two and former member of the Sullivan West Board of Education.
Novak was apparently home alone when the fire broke out, according to Senior Investigator Mike Orrego.
In the early stages of divorce proceedings, Novak had sent her two kids, both under 10 years old, to their father’s house.
What’s still under investigation is what happened next.
She was found in the basement of the house with the entire structure caved in around her.
An autopsy has been performed on the body, but Orrego said he could not release the results and would not pin the cause of death on the fire. Even a positive ID of the body as Novak is still pending.
Nor could he comment on the cause of the fire itself arson investigators were on the scene at press time to try to determine what might have happened on the split level ranch home at 222 County Route 25 near Lava.
The fire was called in around 6:20 a.m. by a neighbor, Orrego said, but even then it was already engulfed in flames.
There was little the responding firemen could do the house was “totalled,” according to Orrego.
“I’m not ruling anything out yet,” he said. “As of right now, it’s suspicious.
“It’s a horrible thing, but thank God the kids weren’t there.”
The family dog is still missing the large mixed breed could not be found in the wreckage and might have escaped harm.
A former member of the Sullivan West Board of Education, Novak has been, since the spring, a member of the district’s Central Staff as its data specialist.
“The school community is crushed and saddened,” said SW Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Hilton. “She was our go-to person on data. She brought computer savvy and knowledge to her task. She was bright and full of initiative. We’re going to miss her greatly.”
Both of Novak’s children were students at Sullivan West Elementary School.