Fire that destroyed Ripley home ruled accidental

Photo by the Fuller Hose Co. No. 1 Firefighters are pictured Monday afternoon in the town of Ripley. A fire that destroyed a Shaver Street home has been ruled accidental.



RIPLEY — A woman was rescued from her burning home by a volunteer firefighter and good Samaritans in a blaze later ruled accidental.

The woman was the only occupant inside the Shaver Street property in Ripley at the time when smoke was spotted coming from its eaves around 2:15 p.m.

A volunteer firefighter, identified as Elis Contaro, and two citizens, Michael Knight and Thomas Swoger, were about three houses down when they saw the smoke. With the use of a nearby extension ladder, the woman was helped down from the second floor.

“He knew exactly what he needed to do to get her out,” Ripley Fire Chief Mark Smith said of Contaro. “He risked his own safety. According to what he learned in training, he got the woman out.”

The woman was later transported to the hospital for an evaluation.

Several fire departments assisted Ripley on Shaver Street, including South Ripley, Sherman, Westfield and North East in Pennsylvania. Tankers for a water supply also were called in from Brocton, Portland and Greenfield, Pa.

Smith said smoke could be seen coming from the first and second floors with heavy fire coming from the basement.

Two adults and three children resided at the home, which was destroyed in the fire. Two pets were outside when the fire broke out.

Smith said first responders were able to save some personal items belonging to the family. “I would just say thanks for all the work and dedication, saving her life and saving the personal items,” Smith said of the mutual aid Monday.

An investigation, Chautauqua County Undersheriff Rich Telford said, found that the fire began in the basement of the home before spreading.

“We determined that the fire started in the basement, where discarded ashes from a wood stove were placed too close to combustible materials,” Telford said. “Those ignited and then spread from there.”

A portion of Route 20 was closed to traffic as a result of the fire. Crews remained on scene for several hours.


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