Neighbors helped an elderly couple escape a house fire just moments before an oxygen tank exploded in Bath on Nov. 23. One firefighter was burned while battling the fire.
At 10:28 a.m. the Bath Volunteer Fire Department was called for a report of a structure fire at 6425 Windfall Road. The home is owned by an elderly couple, the Helm's, and the man called with his cell phone to report their house was on fire and it was in the walls.
When neighbors Phil Chissom and past Bath Fire Chief Ron Delio, arrived they found the home with heavy fire conditions but did not see the Helm’s. The two of them ran into the house and heard a loud hissing sound. They were able to find and assist the couple from the home only minutes before a portable oxygen cylinder exploded and the house became fully engulfed in flames.
There were several portable oxygen cylinders in the home which exploded throughout the fire. Some landed in the front lawn where firefighters were trying to contain the flames. There was also a live natural gas line to the home that ruptured. Firefighters were able to access a valve to shut down the gas flow, however one firefighter received burns to the back of his neck through his protective gear in the process and was treated at the scene by Bath Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
Bath was assisted on scene with both apparatus and manpower from Kanona, Savona, Hammondsport, Cameron and Howard fire departments. Bath VA covered for Bath.
Bath Ambulance did transport one resident for smoke inhalation.
The Steuben County Fire Investigation Team also responded to the scene and the cause is suspected to be a clothes dryer.
Units on scene: E-7, E-53, PT-38, R-1, B-31