WEST POINT - A Glasgow Road home was destroyed Monday afternoon in a blaze that also killed the owners' pet dog.
No one was present at the modular home of Jack Ketchum when his parents, Bill and Jackie Ketchum, happened to drive past on their way to their own home up the road.
Mr. Ketchum said he noticed what appeared to be fog covering the valley behind their son's home, and he decided to turn around and go back. That's when they saw smoke coming from underneath the eaves.
Firefighter Andrew Bayless pours water onto what remains of a modular home on Glasgow Road occupied by the Jack Ketchum family. The family’s pet dog perished in the blaze, for which the cause is currently unknown. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)
Knowing the family dog, Gunther, was inside, Mrs. Ketchum ran up to the front door and opened it, but billowing smoke forced her to close it. Meanwhile, Mr. Ketchum tried the back door, but found it locked.
A nearby neighbor, Dave Wilson, also said he attempted to get the dog out but was stymied by heavy smoke.
Fire officials said they assume the dog perished since it was not located outside.
The younger Ketchum was at work in Pennsylvania while his three children were in school, but he and his two older daughters arrived on the scene to find their home little more than a skeletal ruin.
West Point and Glenmoor firefighters battled the blaze with tankers that pulled water from a hydrant at the end of the road, but to no avail. As they fought the fire, acetylene tanks in the basement could be heard venting and popping.
West Point Chief Wayne Chamberlain said the fire must have been burning inside for some time to have gotten that good of a start, saying the smoke could be seen from both the department's stations, in West Point and on state Route 45.
When firefighters arrived, they discovered the floor had collapsed into the basement, making it impossible for them to enter the structure, with the acetylene tanks adding to the danger, Chamberlain said.
"There was nothing we could do," the chief said as his firefighters were instructed to let the home burn after it became evident it could not be saved.
He said it appeared the blaze started in the front right corner of the home, which Ketchum told him would have been the family room area.
"I don't know that we'll ever know what caused it," Chamberlain said.
Ketchum was renting the home from Phillip Ridolfi of Hudson, and did have renter's insurance on the contents, according to Chamberlain.
In addition to receiving additional manpower and tankers from Glenmoor, West Point had Lisbon on standby at its station.