GLENS FALLS — Three families are working to rebuild their lives after the devastating fire that swept through their home at 15 Kenworthy Ave. on Saturday.
Panda VanTassell said her boyfriend, Chase Baker, helped lead people to safety when the fire broke out at about 7 p.m.
“It looked like a dragon breathed fire on the front porch. There was a fireball that went across the entire wall,” she said.
Baker grabbed her son and they ran without any shoes through the house to escape.
He broke through a wall and two doors to get people out of the house and alert the upstairs neighbors that there was a fire, VanTassell said.
“They went down the back stairs and they went to go around the side of the house. They realized the cars were burning. The fence was burning,” she said.
Tara Webster lived upstairs with her daughter and nephew and three little dogs.
Joseph Blake and his 3-year-old son Ben and daughter Abie, who turns 6 on Wednesday, share the apartment with VanTassell’s family.
“It was his weekend with the kids. They were watching ‘Star Wars’ when all this happened,” she said.
The fire spread quickly, according to VanTassell.
“We watched the garbage cans melt to the floor,” she said.
Firefighters worked to contain the blaze but were having some difficulty with water pressure, she said.
“They literally did the best they possibly could,” she said.
The families have been staying at various hotels.
“It’s clearly one day at a time. Now we’ve had an outpouring of a massive amount of support from the community,” she said.
VanTassell has fundraising information for all three families on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/killerpanda2013. All three have Go Fund Me pages.
The families have received many donations already and they are going to need new cars and a permanent place to live, according to VanTassell.
Her son is a full-time student at SUNY Adirondack and he lost all of his books and laptop with only a few weeks left in the semester.
She lost her entire art studio, computer, all of her paintings and a graphic novel that she was working on.
It has been a rough couple of years for the family. VanTassell was planning to return to the workforce.
“I’ve spent the last year and a half fighting ovarian cancer,” she said.
VanTassell said Webster recently had surgery on her shoulder.
VanTassell said she is relieved nobody got hurt. Their cat Luna and their pet tarantula Peaches died in the fire.
VanTassell said she does not know how the fire started.
Glens Falls Fire Chief James Schrammel said the cause is still under investigation. He said it was too early to make a determination. Fire officials are looking to interview people who called in the fire or were there at the time.
Firefighters had difficulty in getting sufficient water pressure and had to tap a hydrant one block over. Schrammel said the lines in that section of the city are not large enough to carry the volume of water needed in a fire of this scale.
“We had multiple vehicles and the building involved,” he said.
All Glens Falls fire personnel, including those off duty, were dispatched to the scene and there was mutual aid from South Glens Falls and Queensbury.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.