One displaced, three cats die in Pyrites house fire

Jan. 20—PYRITES — One person was displaced and three cats are dead following a Tuesday house fire at 75 Church Hill St.

Pyrites Fire Chief Tom E. Schwahn said firefighters were dispatched following a 3:57 p.m. 911 call. He said they arrived to find heavy smoke outside and fire inside.

"Heavy smoke coming from the roof and chimney. There was fire throughout the house, in the basement, up through the walls and that. It was pretty much smoldering," he said.

He said the cause is undetermined, but he believes it may have started with a woodstove in the basement.

The house was condemned the following day, Mr. Schwahn said, "due to fire and other factors." He said in addition to the fire damage, the house was "degraded. It hasn't been kept up."

Pyrites received mutual aid from Canton, Hermon and Russell fire departments. Also responding were Canton Rescue, St. Lawrence County sheriff's deputies and a fire investigator and fire coordinator from St. Lawrence County.

"Hats off to the other departments. It was a good response, with volunteers being short these days. We had a quick and good response," Mr. Schwahn said. "It was a good knockdown, good response."

He said firefighters were back in service around 8 p.m., after spending time cleaning up the scene after the fire was doused.

The American Red Cross is offering assistance to the sole occupant.

"The Red Cross provided financial assistance which can be used for necessities such as shelter, food, and clothing to one adult. Volunteers also offered emotional support and comfort kits containing personal care items. In the coming days, Red Cross staff and volunteers will remain available to help those affected by the fire as they navigate the road to recovery," the agency said in a prepared statement.