By JOHN ANDERSON
A dog woke two families during an early morning apartment fire in Wellsville and one resident is recovering at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Fire investigators said the fire may have started in the front downstairs apartment at 128 Scott Avenue in Wellsville when a cigarette in the bathroom hit the floor and then caught the fiberglass bathtub on fire.
The side apartment had a dog who smelled the smoke around 5:30 a.m. and woke the tenants. They woke a female in the front apartment and 911 was called.
Allegany County Fire Coordinator and Emergency Manager Jeff Luckey said Wellsville Police Department officer Justin Zajicek ran into the apartment and the woman was covered and soot just feet from the door. As Zajicek removed her from the apartment, she clutched his hand until the ambulance arrived.
Luckey said as a result of the smoke inhalation, she was put on a respirator and flown by a medical helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital. He did not have a condition update on the patient.
A second woman from the side apartment was also taken to Jones Memorial Hospital for smoke inhalation.
Right as Zajicek removed the tenant, Wellsville firefighters rushed into the apartment with a hose coming off the Emerald’s truck and knocked the fire down in the bathroom before it spread to the walls and upstairs.
The tenant from the third apartment upstairs was not home. However, firefighters went upstairs and rescued a dog that had smoke inhalation. During this Wellsville Sun video (above) when firefighters brought the dog outside, other firefighters were petting the dog to keep the dog calm. Dog Control Officer Kathy Faulkner confirmed the dog was taken to the veterinarian’s office and will remain there until the owner returns.
Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kevin Fleischman was working at the 911 dispatch center when the fire took place around 5:35 a.m. at 128 Scott Avenue and Rod Winans was the incident commanding officer.
“I talked to Rod and some others and they had a heck of a stop this morning,” Fleischman said. “Our first engine was on scene within minutes of the alarm and did a great job getting in and knocking it down in a couple minutes to keep it in the bathroom.”
Luckey said the fire was accidental.
“The dog alerted the tenants when the dog saw smoking coming in from the next door neighbor’s kitchen,” Luckey said. “The floor in the bathroom is burned and the fiberglass bathtub was consumed by fire which caused the extra smoke.
“The bathroom is gutted, the sink is melted and the toilet was broken up,” Luckey continued. “The sheet rock held up and the (molding) on the doorway burned. There was some burning in the hallway from heat and back to the back room.”
Luckey said they are waiting for the owner of the property to return calls before the investigation is completed.
See our original reporting