Two dogs perished in a house fire at 320 1/2 King St. late Monday afternoon.
Herkimer Fire Chief John Spanfelner said officials believe the fire was accidental.
“We're not exactly sure, but we think it may have been from discarded smoking materials,” he said during a telephone interview Tuesday.
Spanfelner said the department received a call from 911 dispatch about the fire at around 4:36 p.m. Monday. Upon arrival, Spanfelner said firefighters saw “heavy smoke and flame visible on the kitchen side of the house.”
The house is situated behind homes at the corner of King and Perry streets. Spanfelner said the fire started outside on the side nearest Perry Street, where the porch was located.
“The heaviest amount of damage was to the post [on the porch]. It was heavily charred and there were a lot of combustibles,” said Spanfelner.
He said this included a wicker chair with a cushion and Coleman propane tanks.
“Several witnesses heard loud bangs. That was the propane tanks being ruptured,” he said.
Spanfelner continued, “The heavy fire on the porch got underneath the clapboards of the house and spread into the kitchen.”
The fire also spread into the living room, and onto the second floor.
Hoses were led through the second floor window as a way to attack the fire. Spanfelner said they were able to pop the windows for ventilation inside the home.
The Ilion Fire Department brought their aerial ladder truck to the scene and used a King Street driveway to access the home. This allowed firefighters to remove outside parts of the house on the second floor, which included moldings and the trims, to reach the fire in the rafters.
At one point, the porch appeared to be fully engulfed in flames. When the fire reached into the rafters, flames could be seen on the outside part of the roof.
Crowds gathered on King and Perry streets to watch as firefighters worked the scene. At times, the smoke from the fire became so heavy it drifted into the streets nearby, causing the crowd to back up.
“The biggest challenge was that it was set back off the road,” said Spanfelner, about the fire. “We had very little access to the property. Plus, we had some pretty good winds blowing. We had a concern for the house right next to it that was about four feet away.”
Spanfelner said no one was believed to be home at the time of the fire. He said one of the residents had left the home a 3:50 p.m., and that his son left the residence at 4 p.m.
Spanfelner said the side of the home nearest Perry Street had the most damage, which included fire, smoke and water damage. He said the back of the home had no damage.
Page 2 of 2 - Spanfelner described the home as “unlivable.”
Firefighters were at the scene for about four hours.
The Ilion and East Herkimer fire departments assisted at the scene.