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Fire consumes Chautauqua Institution house

Narrow streets hinder response as one home falls, another damaged by fire

October 17, 2012
By John Whittaker ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

CHAUTAUQUA - A Chautauqua Institution home has been destroyed and another damaged after a fire Monday morning, Oct. 8.

Several area volunteer fire departments responded to the fire, which began a little before 9:30 a.m. Mark Powers, Chautauqua Volunteer Fire Department chief, said the home at 54 S. Lake Drive was destroyed a few minutes after he arrived at the scene. A home at 52 S. Lake Drive was also heavily damaged by the fire.

"It was fully involved when I got here,'' Powers said. "Unfortunately, the house on the corner, three or four minutes after I got here, was on the ground. We went defensive at that time to try to save (the home next door). ... The guys did a pretty good job with what we had here."

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Submitted photo
Several fire department crews responded to a house fire in Chautauqua Institution early Monday morning, Oct. 8. Fire claimed one home and damaged another.

Departments responding included the Chautauqua, Mayville, Hartfield, Maple Springs, Ashville and Sherman volunteer fire departments as well as the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department, Chautauqua County FAST Team and Chautauqua County Fire Police.

Powers said the Columbus Day holiday made more manpower available to respond to the fire, though navigating the institution's narrow streets with heavy fire equipment was a challenge.

"Logistically, trying to get apparatus here is an absolute nightmare,'' Powers said. "I'm sorry the lady lost her house, but a house can be replaced. At least she's still here."

Powers said there were no injuries in the fire. The county's Fire Investigation Team was called to the scene.

The fire, which started around 9:30 a.m., was ruled accidental due to newspapers being stacked over the top of the furnace grate. According to the investigation, the furnace had turned on overnight in the home due to cold temperatures which caused the furnace to heat up and eventually catch the newspapers piled up on top of the furnace grate, directly above the furnace.

The home at 54 S. Lake Dr., was completely destroyed by the fire and the neighboring home at 56 S. Lake Dr., was extensively damaged, but fire operations were able to save the structure.

To see a video of the fire, visit



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