FOWLER – A family of five is homeless after fire destroyed their trailer, killed ten pets and destroyed all their belongings and Christmas presents early Sunday morning.
A faulty furnace is believed to have caused the blaze to the 94A Gulf Road mobile home owned and occupied by John L. Walrath, according to St. Lawrence County fire investigator Joe Lacks.
The Gouverneur Fire Department responded at 6:26 a.m. and firefighters had trouble entering the trailer as the floor had already burned out, Lacks said. Family members said they woke up to smoke and fire after hearing the furnace “pop” and seeing fire at the base of it before it spread.
One boy, Aaron Walrath, burned his hands while attempting to go back into the burning structure for his brother who had already left the trailer, investigators said. He was transported to E.J. Noble Hospital, Gouverneur, by the Gouverneur Rescue Squad for treatment.
At least four dogs and six cats perished in the blaze. In addition to Walrath family members, a visiting teenager also escaped from the blaze.
The Red Cross is assisting the family. The structure was not insured and has been declared a total loss, fire investigators said.
The Richville and Edwards fire departments provided mutual aid and the Richville Fire Deaprtment was on standby.
The fire is being investigated by the St. Lawrence County Bureau of Fire, according to Steven M. Young, chief engineer of the Gouverneur Fire Department.