SAMMONSVILLE - Lightning struck a Route 67 home during Wednesday night's thunderstorm, causing the dwelling to become engulfed in flames and sending a mother and her toddler daughter fleeing for their lives.
Sammonsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Stanley Allen said today a lightning bolt was the cause of the 6:45 p.m. fire that destroyed a two-story woodframe home located at 909 Route 67.
He said the home - owned by David and Margaret Ashline of Johnstown - had been occupied by Ryan and Amy Havarek and their four children.
A fire in a house at 909 Route 67 in the Sammonsville is shown Wednesday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Allen said that during the height of Wednesday's early evening thunderstorm, lightning struck an electrical panel outside the home. The only persons home at the time were Amy Havarek and her 21-month-old daughter, Miya.
"She said that within 15 to 20 seconds, the home was engulfed in flames," the chief said.
Allen said Havarek and her child escaped from the burning home and were later taken to Nathan Littauer Hospital for possible smoke inhalation. Also suffering from smoke inhalation was a Sir William Johnson volunteer firefighter, who Allen said also was treated at that hospital.
"It took a good hour to get it under control," Allen said of the blaze. "It was raining so hard it was hard for anyone to see. Flames were coming out of every window."
The Havarek's other three children were staying at their uncle's home at the time of the fire. Allen said the entire Havarek family is now staying at the home of relatives.
"It's a total loss," he said of the structure.
A passerby called 911 after seeing "so much smoke and fire" emanating from the structure, Allen said.
He said his department was assisted at the scene by the Sir William Johnson and Ephratah volunteer fire departments. On stand-by were the Caroga Lake and Meco volunteer fire departments.
There was no threat to other homes in the immediate area because of the isolated location of the structure, Allen said.
Fulton County Civil Defense-Fire Coordinator Allan Polmateer couldn't be reached this morning.
Even though the driving rain hampered visibility while fighting the fire, he said the situation could have been worse.
"Good thing it didn't happen in the middle of the night," the chief said.