Quick response confines fire damage to garage

Firefighters discuss the cause of a fire at 214 North Chase St. in Johnstown on Thursday afternoon that damaged the garage and a 1973 Corvette parked inside of it. 
(The Leader-Herald/Al Vieira)

Firefighters discuss the cause of a fire at 214 North Chase St. in Johnstown on Thursday afternoon that damaged the garage and a 1973 Corvette parked inside of it. (The Leader-Herald/Al Vieira)

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

A fire that broke out in the home’s garage was contained there and extinguished within minutes of a 9-1-1 call 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 extensive body damage.

No one was injured.

Johnstown Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said it was too early to give a definitive cause of the fire, but the investigation centered around materials left in the garage from remodeling work being done at the home.

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 said the fire “definitely didn’t start” in the car.

Jim Belknap, owner of Budget Exteriors, said “we don’t have any idea,” when asked 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 around 4:30 p.m. 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 badly burned Corvette, the garage incurred minor damage.

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