SALAMANCA — A Salamanca mobile home appears to be a total loss after a fire broke out Monday evening.
The blaze at lot 28 of Hemlock Hills Mobile Home Park was reported at approximately 6:25 p.m., bringing out the Salamanca, Kill Buck and Seneca Nation fire departments, as well as the Salamanca Police Department and Seneca Nation Marshals.
Crews knocked down the fire in time to save surrounding homes in the Washington Street trailer park, but the trailer at lot 28 was left heavily damaged.
“It doesn’t look like they saved a whole lot in that trailer unfortunately. I’m surprised it’s still standing,” said Salamanca Police Chief Troy Westfall, who was among the first to arrive on scene, “but they did save the surrounding ones. They did what they could and saved it from a loss of human life.”
While no people were killed or injured, two dogs in the trailer did perish. Westfall said the trailer was otherwise unoccupied and a neighbor is believed to have called 911.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Cattaraugus County Fire Investigation Team.
The occupant of the trailer, Robert Allen, said he was at work at The Bear Brick bar and restaurant in Little Valley and his two young children were at their babysitter’s house when he received a call that his home was on fire.
The call was from his mother, who received a Facebook call from one of Allen’s neighbors.
“I called my boss up and said, ‘I have to leave now.’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because my house is on fire.’ He’s like, ‘OK, bye,’’ Allen said. “I got in my truck and … (drove) 90 miles an hour the whole way here from Little Valley.”
Standing outside his destroyed trailer, where he had lived for the last six years, Allen, 36, said he was still in shock.
“I lost everything, literally everything — our home and our dogs,” he said.
An effort was made to save the dogs, but the attempt proved to be too dangerous, said Westfall.
The police chief opened the side door and crawled in four or five feet after neighbors informed him dogs may be inside. However, the fire then flashed over, causing heavy smoke.
“You could not see anything and I backed right out,” said Westfall, adding he had to check that his eyebrows had not been singed off.
Westfall said Salamanca Fire Assistant Chief Tom Sturdevant was the first firefighter on scene and did a “tremendous job” beginning the attack on the fire, including reminding Westfall how to assist with the water pump.
More fighters arrived and ultimately knocked down the blaze. While nearby homes were mostly spared, the siding of a neighboring trailer was scorched.
Allen said he and his two children, ages 6 and 4, are going to stay with his mother.
Just about an hour after the fire, community members were already organizing ways to help them.
“I just got a message from my boss and co-workers saying that if people do want to donate anything, they can drop it off at The Bear Brick,” Allen said.