FONDA — For fire victim Shannon Ponte, nothing in her life had prepared her for waking up and finding her life in danger and her home engulfed in flames.
“When we first opened the bedroom door, we didn’t see anything, it was like it was all black,” said Ponte. “But when we opened it again, it was totally engulfed in flames. We had only moments to get out of there.”
Ponte, who lived in the two-story home at 24 E. Main St. with her fiance, Timothy Saxe, and two daughters, Mya, 4 and Autumn, 9, said she credits their English bulldog, Rocky, with saving their lives by running out the backdoor, “our only way out.”
“We put him out of our bedroom and closed the door because of his snoring,” said Ponte. “And we were asleep and he started head-butting our door and it woke us up.”
That is when the couple discovered the fire and grabbed the dog and one cell phone by the bed before rushing out of their first-floor apartment. The two girls were away for the night, “thank God,” Ponte said.
Ponte said there were no working smoke alarms in the apartment and that the fire started by a malfunction of one of the baseboard heaters running through-out the apartment.
Both Ponte and Saxe, along with the two girls, lost everything in the fire. Upstairs neighbor Jennifer Jones, who was not home at the time of the blaze, also lost the majority of her belongings.
“We lost all our family photos, the girl’s baby pictures, all their toys and all their clothes.”
Ponte and Saxe, who were standing barefoot in the street as the structure burned, watched as the entire home burned. Ponte’s hair was burned, as was Rocky’s fur during the escape out the backdoor.
“Our girls’ kitten and hamster were lost — we couldn’t save them,”
said Ponte, but said she was amazed at the kindness of strangers that night and every day since.
Jones lost two pet birds in the blaze.
“Thank God for all the amazing people,” said Ponte. “We were standing there in our pajamas and no shoes — Tim had only a pair of shorts on — and some guy gave him the shirt off his back and another lady gave me a pair of shoes and someone else gave us a coat.”
“There are some truly great people in this world and I am thankful for them,” Ponte said.
To help the Ponte-Saxe and Jones families, Loopies Pub has arranged a benefit on Sunday for the victims who lost everything in the fire.
The benefit will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. at 410 Mohawk Dr., Tribes Hill. It will be $15 per person and all proceeds will go to the victims of the fire to help them get back on their feet. There will also be raffle items, gift certificates and a 50/50 raffle.
MaryLou Crane, Loopie’s Pub owner said she would like donations of items to be raffled off. Food for the benefit will also be appreciated.
Anyone looking to make check donations, can make them out to Loopie’s Pub and put “Fonda Fire victims” in the memo on the check.
Crane said so far there has been a $100 check donated, a $100 gift certificate for T.J.Maxx, a frozen turkey and some clothes.
“Everyone will be able to meet them and to see what they need,” Crane added.
The fire occurred on Nov. 5 and Substantially damaged the building. Since then the two-family home has been torn down. There was also some damage done to neighboring homes as well. At 22 E. Main St. there was smoke and water damage and the siding had melted off at 26 E. Main St. A car, parked between 22 E. Main and 24 E. Main, was also destroyed in the blaze.
Jones said she hopes this benefit will help her get her own place to live.
“I’m happy that everyone is coming together,” Jones said. “It shows that everyone cares and I appreciate what everyone is doing.”
Ponte said the American Red Cross helped them find an apartment in Fort Plain.
“Loopies Pub has been amazing,” said Ponte. “They have given so much to us. We are so grateful for all the wonderful people who have helped.”
For more information, call (518) 829-8000.