Man dies in Vail Mills blaze despite passerby’s best effort to save him

Firefighters and investigators work at the scene of a fatal mobile fire at 3786 State Hwy 30 in the town of Mayfield Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

VAIL MILLS — A woman on her way to work tried in vain Wednesday to save a man trapped in a burning mobile home. But the heat from the blaze prevented her from entering the building.

The man trapped inside the 3:30 a.m. blaze on Route 30, adjacent to the Blue Moon Motel in Vail Mills, died.

Officials have not released his name.

Fulton County Civil Defense-Fire Coordinator Steve Santa Maria said an investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the fire. He confirmed the deceased was the only individual in the home.

The man’s dwelling is a total loss, and a nearby mobile home suffered exterior damage.

Santa Maria said Crystal Aldous, of Broadalbin, was on her way to work around 3:30 a.m. with her mother and father-in-law when she noticed the dwelling on fire. Santa Maria said Aldous turned her truck around and drove to the scene.

He said Aldous told authorities she heard what sounded like cries for help coming from inside.

“She tried to gain entrance to the home, but the home was too hot and smoky,” Santa Maria said. “The amount of stress for that individual is a lot, but to have a passerby do something like this is incredible.”

Aldous could not be reached for comment.

Santa Maria said Aldous called 911 while her mother stayed in the truck to honk the horn to alert people to the fire. Her father-in-law went knocking on doors to wake up neighbors and get them to safety.

“It was a nice effort by a complete stranger,” Santa Maria said. “Thanks to the quick actions of the Broadalbin fire department, the damage was contained.”

Roughly 40 firefighters were on site as the Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Department responded with Perth, Mayfield and Hagaman. Santa Maria said the firefighters walked into a large living room fire. The victim was found in an adjacent room.

The mobile home next door also received damage from the flames as the outside siding on the house melted, and Santa Maria said the blinds inside were also melted due to the tremendous amount of heat through the glass.

Despite the damage, the mobile home was deemed to be structurally sound and safe, Santa Maria said.

“These homes are very lightweight and in some cases, poorly built. Once a fire gets started, it’s very quick before the whole house is consumed,” Santa Maria said. a

By Chad Fleck

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