GLOVERSVILLE – Misty Nellis and her stepmother, Diana Deloria, were riding in their car Wednesday afternoon when they noticed black smoke coming from a yard on Third Street.
They turned down the street and to the scene of the fire at 89 Third St.
“We saw the thick, black smoke and realized the [outdoor gas] grill was on fire,” Nellis said.
A neighbor was banging on the front door when the women arrived.
Nellis said the family wasn’t responding, so she started to scream. She said the family was upstairs and couldn’t hear the knocking on the windows and doors.
“I had to react,” she said.
The three got the family’s attention and helped Karen Brown and three children get out of the one-family home. Nellis called 911.
The occupants were in shock when they came outside, Nellis said. They had no idea their home was on fire.
The gas grill was close to the back of the house, and the fire spread to the siding quickly, according to Nellis.
“It [the siding] was just melting,” she said.
The fire displaced eight people – two adults and six children – and three cats, authorities said. No one was injured.
Fire Chief Tom Groff said the fire was accidental.
“[The grill] was being operated too close to the house,” Groff said. “The siding got too hot.”
He said the fire had spread into the attic when the Gloversville and Johnstown fire departments arrived.
Firefighters had the flames under control within 20 minutes. Damage was contained to the attic area over the first-floor bathroom and the exterior of the house.
“It damaged the house pretty good,” Groff said. “But the house is definitely fixable.”
He said the family should be able to return to the house.
“It all happened within a few minutes. We had just enough time to get everybody out,” Nellis said.
Deloria said she and Nellis noticed the grill on fire and got out of their vehicle.
“I jumped into grandmother or mother mode,” Deloria said. “I kept thinking that if that was my family, I would want someone to help me.”
Groff said Nellis and Deloria’s selfless actions prevented possible further tragedy.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
The Gloversville Second Battalion, city Police Department, the Ambulance Service of Fulton County and the Red Cross assisted.
“I don’t feel like a hero,” Deloria said. “I feel like everybody should react like we did. I think it would make it a better community.”