Fire Destroys Bayside Home; Everyone Escapes Safely
At least six area fire departments and four local police departments assisted in putting out a fire that completely consumed a home in the 9000 block of Rexleigh Drive.
A Bayside home was destroyed in a Thursday afternoon fire that took at least six fire departments more than three hours to bring under control.
The North Shore Fire Department initially responded after the homeowner called 911 after she heard crackling, and got out of the house.
The smoke from the blaze was visible from far beyond the borders of Bayside and forced police to block off at least four arterial streets through the village, including Regent Road, Ellsworth Lane, Fairy Chasm Road and Rexleigh Drive.
At 3 p.m., the fire had been reduced to what North Shore Fire Department Chief Robert Whitaker called "hot spots," small areas that may still have flames or where there are still hot embers. However, the roof had collapsed and the entire of the home, which was part brick and part siding, was charred and destroyed.
Three people and their dog were inside the home when the fire started fire — Irv Kahn, 84; Joyce Kahn, 78; their caretaker; and their dog Cassie.
Gila Katz, the couple's great-niece, the Katzes built that home in 1959 and had lived there ever since.
As the family sat in the driveway across the street with paramedics, firefighters continued to fight the blaze that was stretching through the entire house.
"They (firefighters) attempted to make an interior attack on the fire and were forced back," Whitaker said. "It's a longer, one-story home, so we had heavy fire in the attic. The fire was tough to get at because we had to come out of the building and we weren't able to access the attic from an exterior standpoint. So we attempted to knock it down from the outside, but we had heavy fire involvement upon arrival."
Whitaker said there were a total of six fire engines, three ladder companies, four ambulances, several chief officers and six water tenders helping fight this fire. Because areas of Bayside do not have fire hydrants, water had to be trucked in to fight the blaze.
"We have tankers on our fleet, but any large-size fire we need to bring in help from other communities," he said. However, when asked if having fire hydrants throughout the village would have saved this home, Whitaker said he doesn't think so.
A Glendale couple said they were shopping at Best Buy when they saw the smoke and drove over to see what was going on. They said this is especially scary for them because they have a home very similar to this one.
"The problem is the fact that they don't have water and that made us think about where we live," Robin Cohn said.
"There's a hydrant right down our block, so we're happy," added Fred Cohn.
The initial damage estimate for the structure and the contents of the home is about $350,000, the NSFD said. No smoke detectors were sounding when firefighters arrived, but officials are unsure whether the home had any detectors.
Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the fire, however, the homeowner who called 911 to report the fire said it started in the back of the house.