Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Friends joined Susan Panaro (second from right) and her family recently as they relaxed at their temporary home in Smallwood while waiting for insurance moneys to rebuild their gutted house. From Left are Susan’s mom Patricia Naeem, Samantha Simon, Ryan Camasca, Susan, and daughter Phoebe Panaro, whose quick action on the morning of the fire saved their lives.
Fire won't keep
this family down
By Jon Dinan
SMALLWOOD January 4 A local family of three has been left homeless after a furious and fast-spreading house fire left much of their Smallwood residence gutted last month.
The home of Susan Panaro, her daughter Phoebe and her mother Patricia Naeem was engulfed and spewing 50 foot flames within minutes after 9-year-old Phoebe woke up at around 5 a.m. on the morning of December 1, and discovered smoke.
Phoebe, who was having a friend sleeping over at the time, immediately woke her friend Naomi Jennings and mother Susan. The two young girls ran to safety as Susan rushed to the entrance of her mother’s basement apartment, and began kicking her doors and windows to alert the elderly woman.
“I was afraid she had already been exposed to smoke. She’s on oxygen as it is, and if I didn’t get to her in time her tank could’ve exploded,” said Panaro.
Finally Patricia appeared at the door unharmed and was able to escape danger under her own power.
“The fire started in the wall, it was an electrical fire,” said Smallwood Fire Department volunteer Jaimi Sico, who was the first emergency respondent to reach the scene.
“I got there minutes after the call went out and the house was already almost entirely consumed,” Sico revealed.
Fortunately everyone inside including the family cat and two dogs made it out of the deadly burning building.
The Red Cross set up the family at a hotel in Monticello for a while, and Susan, Phoebe and Patricia are currently staying with a friend of the family just a mile away from their house.
“At the moment we are settled into this house and waiting to hear what the insurance companies have to say,” Susan Panaro said. “It should happen sometime this week. After that we’ll begin working on a plan to tear down our old house and build a new one. We may not be able to get started until spring though, because we need solid ground to lay the foundation.”
How to help
Donations for the family are being accepted at the Smallwood Country Store Deli & Pizzeria at 218 Pine Grove Rd., and a Facebook page is being created to accept donations and messages to the family.
For additional information contact Smallwood Country Store at 845-397-2840.