Residents of New Paltz are continuing to marvel at the efforts and natural instinct of a local babysitter when the house she was watching caught fire with a child and two dogs inside.
On Sunday, Oct. 15 at 11:42 p.m., the New Paltz Fire Department (NPFD) received a dispatch call for a possible structure fire of the household at 296 Route 32. The first one on the scene was Assistant Fire Chief Cory Wirthmann.
“We received a dispatch call and five minutes later, at 11:47 p.m. I was there to assess the situation,” Wirthmann said.
The 911 call was placed by a passerby who had taken notice to the smoke and flames.
17-year old New Paltz High School student Madelynn Haynes had been babysitting 10-year old Ava Savino when the fire began.
According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, Haynes heard noises coming from the hallway and when she went to investigate the source, she noticed smoke billowing out of a hallway vent. Almost instantaneously, Haynes woke a sleeping Savino, ushering her out of the house, knowing that danger was imminent. Haynes then proceeded to retrieve the Savino family’s two dogs. She located one in its crate and handed the dog to Savino to wait safely outside. Haynes then focused her attention to the older dog, who had been frightened by the smoke and retreated to a bathroom in the back of the house.
In the matter of approximately two minutes, Haynes was able to get everyone out safely.
Haynes explained to The Poughkeepsie Journal that fear was the driving force of her actions.
“I panicked and I felt the need to get everyone out of the house,” she said. “It came to me naturally; I didn’t give it much thought.”
NPFD was able to clear the scene at 3:05 a.m., assessing that 60 percent of the house was destroyed in the fire.
Wirthman explained, that with the help of Ulster County Arson Task Force, the department was able to identify the source as a cigarette found on a deck in the back of the property.
Regarding injuries, Wirthmann explained that Haynes, Savino and the dogs escaped unscathed.
“Everyone who had been in the house when the call was received made it out okay but one of our guys did get injured when he went in to help clear the scene,” he said. “He’s okay but he was struck by a piece of sheetrock while working inside.”
Wirthmann was quick to emphasize the importance of taking precaution in fire safety.
“It’s important to make sure that everyone has smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and that they work; sometimes people forget to check the batteries and they stop working,” he said. “Sometimes a CO detector will alarm the occupants of a fire before a smoke detector will. It’s all about early detection so that everyone can get out and call the FD as fast as possible.”
The Savino family, due to the fire, has been displaced from their home, prompting the creation of a GoFundMe page by Facebook user Kim Lindquist. The page has garnered two-thirds of its goal, reaching over $10,000.
The Oracle intends on conducting a thorough interview with the hero of this story, Madelynn Haynes.