From the Archives: Oriskany Fire Kills 3 Dozen Pets


Oriskany Fire Chief Stephen Sliski walks away from the remains of the home and barn where over 3 dozen pets died. Sliski said he was deeply saddened by the loss of life. (Photo by Nancy L. Ford / Observer-Dispatch)

Oriskany Blaze Razes Home,
Kills 3 Dozen Animals
Photos by NANCY L. FORD
As published April 9, 1998
Copyright © 1998 Observer-Dispatch

Lillian Maggiolino learns that 3 dozen of her pets died in the fire of her home, garage and barn. (Photo by Nancy L. Ford/Observer-Dispatch)

ORISKANY, NY — The cause of a fire that destroyed a one-story frame home, attached garage and a barn at 7889 State Route 69 Wednesday and killed a number of animals remains under investigation.

Lillian Maggiolino sobbed when she spotted the charred ruins of the Town of Whitestown home she had owned since 1988.  She went over to the front entryway to her home, which was blocked by a fire truck, and shook her head before she returned to her family.

    In the rubble, firefighters found 12 cats, 10 dogs, three ponies, two goats and a number of rabbits who were all killed in the blaze, Oriskany Fire Chief Stephen Sliski said.

    “It’s a terrible loss of life, very traumatic,” Sliski said.  “Any type of loss of life, especially when it’s so severe, that definitely hits home.”

    One horse was rescued by Whitestown Police Officer Pat Collea.  “I kicked down the fence and the horse ran out,”  Collea said.

     Oriskany firefighters also pulled a dog from the fire.  the dog was unconscious when they took him out, but regained consciousness on his own.

An Oriskany Volunteer Firefighter gives an unconscious dog oxygen after the dog was rescued from the burning house. (Photo by Nancy L. Ford/Observer-Dispatch)

    Two Oriskany firefighters — Paul Kessler and John Zick — were taken to an area hospital, treated from  smoke inhalation and released, Sliski said.

    The loss of the home and its contents was pegged in excess of $100,000, he said.

    The blaze, which was reported at 8:27 a.m., appeared to have started in the dinning room area, Sliski said.  Ten fire companies responded:  Oriskany, Clark Mills, Clinton, Floyd, Holland Patent, Lowell, Stanwix Heights, Westmoreland, Whitesboro were at the fire scene. Stittville firefighters were on standby at the Oriskany fire station.

    Maggiolino’s neighbor Scott Fitzgerald said he was surprised how fast the fire spread. A man stopped to alert him that the house next door was on fire.

Firefighters battle a fire that fully engulfed the house, barn and garage. (Photo by Nancy L. Ford/Observer-Dispatch)

    “I was nervous about my house catching on fire. Plus, my kids were running around in the yard before school,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted to make sure everybody was safe.”

    “Fitzgerald was saddened by the animals’ death, saying “it was a terrible loss.”

    By 10:19 a.m., the fire was reported under control.

    Firefighters were hampered by three things: a shortage of volunteers to battle the blaze, a very stubborn smoky fire and they had to shuttle water from two miles away to the blaze.

    “Our manpower is very limited during the day, which is true for every volunteer fire department, ” Sliski said.

    But, the fire chief said the community doesn’t have to be concerned about their being covered when there’s a fire because of the shortage. He said mutual aid is provided from other departments.