MEXICO — A 47-year-old woman died in a fierce Kenyon Road house fire Thursday morning, also killing many of the cats she’d taken in and the dog she loved. The home she grew up in was left a charred skeleton of the family homestead her great-grandparents built.
The Oswego County News is withholding the name of the victim pending police notification of the next of kin.
At least 15 fire departments and companies responded to the blaze, according to police. Only one person was in the home at the time of the fire.
A neighbor who’d known the victim since she was 12 years old saw some of the first flames around 6:45 a.m.
“I got up about a quarter to seven when I saw what I thought was a snowplow,” she said, “and I got up to see how much snow we had, and that’s when I saw the flames coming from the kitchen window, the front window. There was smoke billowing everywhere.”
The neighbor continued, saying she thought that because the victim was such an animal lover, she probably tried to rescue her animals, and then got trapped.
“But that’s only speculation on my part because of knowing what an animal lover she was,” she said.
Though the neighbor witnessed the fire from start to finish, she didn’t realize the extent of the damage until later in the day.
“You really couldn’t tell when I left for work at about 9:30,” she said. The house was covered in thick smoke, “so I really couldn’t see the devastation.”
But she did know the fate of her neighbor.
“When I left for work, they had found her,” she said.
Seeing the burnt-out shell of what’s left, it’s impossible not to recognize the bravery of those who fought this blaze.
“The firefighters were fantastic,” the neighbor said. “You could see them going into the burning house with flashlights searching for her, and there was so much smoke that they could be feet from her and not find her.”
The neighbor added she thinks the firefighters did everything they could to save the home.
According to police, the fire is still under investigation and no official cause has been determined. The exact cause of the woman’s death has not been released.
“She was a very nice young girl,” the neighbor remembered. “She kept to herself a lot. She was a huge animal lover. She would trap cats and take them to get them spade or neutered. She had between 10 and 20 cats in the shed in the back, plus what she had in the house. She had one dog. That dog also passed in the fire. There were quite a few cats that passed.”
She said she heard there were a few cats that got away during the fire.
“But I don’t know how,” she added.
Another neighbor of six or seven years reported passing by the house earlier that morning.
“I left the house at ten after six and drove by, you know, not that I was looking for anything, but I didn’t see anything at that time,” he said.
“She brought my dogs back a couple times,” he said of the victim, “and we’d wave, you know, I mean we’re not very close, but, yeah, I mean, we all know each other. She always seemed nice, never had any issues.”
“It’s really, really sad,” he said. “It makes you sick.”