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Town of Clay family survives near fatal fire

Sheriff's deputies respond, assist family's escape

At approximately 11:22 p.m. June 18, the 911 Center received a phone call from a resident of 37 Bayberry Circle, Clay, indicating that the house was on fire and all occupants was trapped on the second floor.

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin E. Walsh said deputies arrived on scene within minutes of being dispatched to see the house engulfed in flames with the occupants trapped on the second floor and calling out for help.

The deputies borrowed a ladder from a neighbor and placed it to the second floor window. Deputy Mike Doupe climbed the ladder and rescued Matthew Poon, 16, who suffered second-degree burns to his upper body and smoke inhalation.

Deputy Tim Hahn also assisted Doupe on the ladder and was able to rescue teenager's mother, Catherine Poon, 51, who was semi-conscious and suffering from smoke inhalation. During this time, Deputy Tim Kelly remained on the ground where he pulled the victims away from the burning structure to safety, Walsh said.

A nearby neighbor, Lateef Haskins, saw the deputies rescuing the occupants and assisted them by bringing a second ladder to the remaining trapped family members, Scarlet Poon, 21, and her cousin Amy Chei, 20. Both Poon and Chei suffered smoke inhalation.

As a result of the rescue efforts, Doupe sustained severe smoke inhalation along with first-degree burns to his face. Hahn also sustained smoke inhalation. Deputy Bob Bell also suffered a shoulder injury while bringing the first ladder to the house.

The residents and deputies were transported to University Hospital by Northern Onondaga Volunteer Ambulance and Northern Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Members of the Moyers Corners Fire Department and Liverpool Fire Department responded to the scene where they were able to cease the fire, which caused a significant amount of damage to the house. The fire also claimed the life of the family's dog, Walsh said.

The American Red Cross responded and is helping the family with temporary living arrangements.

Fire investigators are still investigating the cause but believe the fire started from a faulty electrical cord located on the main level.

Walsh said fire officials also credit the police for their quick response and actions taken, which prevented this incident from becoming a fatal fire. It was also determined that none of the smoke detectors were working at the time of the fire, according to Walsh's report.

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