Firefighters’ quick work contains blaze to garage

Firefighters discuss the cause of a fire at 214 North Chase St. in Johnstown on Thursday. A quick response contained the fire to the garage, but not before it did considerable damage to a 1973 Corvette parked inside. (The Leader-Herald/Al Vieira)

JOHNSTOWN — A quick response by city firefighters may have saved the home at 214 North Chase St..

A fire that broke out in the home’s garage Thursday was contained there and extinguished within minutes of a 9-1-1 call at 5:17 p.m. placed by an electrician working at the home.

The electrician, who requested anonymity, said he smelled smoke and called 9-1-1 right away.

The most notable casualty of the fire: a 1973 Corvette parked in the garage suffered “some” body damage, Johnstown Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said today.

No one was injured in the fire, he said.

A charred 1973 Corvette sits in the garage at 214 North Chase St., in Johnstown following a fire Thursday afternoon. A quick response by the Johnstown Fire Department contained the blaze to the garage. The remains of insulation and other debris lay strewn on the driveway. The dwelling sustained smoke damage, but remained habitable, according to Fire Chief Bruce Heberer. (The Leader-Herald/Al Vieira)

Heberer said the official cause of the fire was “careless discard of a cigarette.”

He said it is likely one of the remodeling contractors working on the house dropped a cigarette in his toolbelt, which caught fire. Heberer said there were many combustible materials in the garage.

Homeowner Sandra DiDonna said Budget Exteriors of Johnstown has been remodeling a bathroom in the home for a couple of days. She said workers had put insulation and some of their tools in the garage before the fire broke out. She said the Corvette had not been driven in a while, and Heberer confirmed the fire did not start in the car.

Jim Belknap, owner of Budget Exteriors, said “we don’t have any idea,” when asked Thursday how the fire started.

Belknap said he arrived at the home 20 minutes after getting the call about the blaze.

“I can say that’s the first time in 40 years I’ve ever had a problem like this,” he said. “It makes you sick, not so much for me, but for my homeowners.”

He said the company is fully insured.

Johnstown firefighters, with backup from Gloversville, responded to the 9-1-1 call and Heberer said they were on the scene within five to seven minutes.

Firefighters knocked down the flames in the garage within minutes and prevented the fire from spreading to the living quarters.

Heberer said the house suffered some smoke damage, but is habitable. In addition to the burned Corvette, the garage incurred minor damage.