Minoa (WSYR-TV) -- Firefighters struggled for hours to contain a house fire on Hulbert Street in the village of Minoa Friday afternoon. Now, a family is left without a home and officials say the fire may have been sparked by a child.
As dense smoke and flames destroyed her daughter's home, a retired teaching assistant passed by wondering how many of the volunteers at the scene could have been her former students.
"They are my kids putting their lives on the line for my grandchildren,” said the fire victims’ grandmother Linda Menninger.
Investigators focused on a kitchen in the two-story home, where the owner says a young son lit incense while his mother ran to the store, throwing it in a waste basket as he became nervous. The boy and his sister escaped, but the fire spread quickly.
"The challenge is right now, because everything is collapsing on top of each other, and trying to smother the fire from the outside. If we could get inside to do it, it would probably be a lot easier,” said Minoa assistant fire chief Richard Sabin as the fire burned.
While crews fought the fire for hours, EMT's set up a rehabilitation zone nearby to help fight fatigue on a hot day.
"Periodically they rotate through the rehab center and they get hydrated with water and Gatorade, and depending on the weather, hot food. We monitor their vital signs and let them know whether they are good to go back in or not,” explained EAVES ambulance EMT Robert McPherson, who was also at the scene of the fire.
As firefighters investigate what happened, Linda is both grateful to the tireless volunteers and worried about the grandchildren they worked to save.
“They've always needed a break. The kids have had it tough their whole life,” Menninger said. "It is definitely going to be a fresh start from here on in."
Firefighters say the home is a total loss. The American Red Cross is helping the two adults and three children who resided at the home.