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North country families who lost homes to fires make plea to community for assistance


A family from Mannsville and young couple from Plessis whose homes were lost to fires this winter are now asking their communities for assistance as they rebuild from scratch.

The family of five in Mannsville who lost everything in a fire early Monday morning is now living in a hotel, paid for by the Red Cross, as they seek new living arrangements. The fire completely destroyed the single-wide trailer and addition at 803 Brown Road, where Robert L. Martin Jr., his wife, Renee A., and three children had lived since last January.

The blaze, which started in the home’s addition, was well under way when the children were awakened by the smell of smoke about 12:45 a.m. The fire, which originated in the addition, was thought to be caused by electrical wiring.

First and foremost, Mr. Martin said, he is thankful his three children — ages 3, 4 and 8 — escaped the flames unharmed.

“I had to crawl on the floor and go back about four times to rescue my 4-year-old,” said the 47-year-old father, who helped his children flee their bedrooms located in the home’s addition.

The family now needs all the help it can get to establish a home again. They need clothing and toys for children, toiletries, bedding, mattresses, kitchen appliances and furniture. Mr. Martin, who did not have insurance on the home, was purchasing the property under a land contract from owner Stephen J. Watson of Syracuse. He would eventually like to build another small home at the site, but he would need help from volunteers to accomplish that plan.

“I’ve worked all my life for everything we’ve got,” he said, “and this is the first home we’ve ever bought. We put a lot of money into it, and it hurts when you see over $70,000 worth of materials destroyed. Any help we can get would be appreciated. If we can get the community to pitch in to remove the debris, we’d like to build another four- or five-bedroom house.”

Donations to support the Martin family may be dropped off at 522 Lansing St. in Watertown, the home of Mrs. Martin’s mother, Eleanore Barnett. Call Mrs. Martin at 726-1706 for more information.

In Plessis, a farmhand and his girlfriend are homeless after a blaze Dec. 22 consumed a two-story house they were renting on the Raymond Papin farm, County Route 3. The young couple, Tyler J. McCargar, 19, and Savarah A. Wright, 21, lost all of their belongings in the blaze, along with Christmas gifts. Though the house, owned by the Papin farm, was insured, the couple did not have renter’s insurance.

The couple, who had lived in the house for four months before the blaze, made several large investments in furniture and appliances to start their life together, all lost to the fire. Ms. Wright, who is eight months pregnant and expecting to deliver her baby March 17, said she has been grateful for the community’s support during their time of need. They are temporarily staying in the house of Mrs. Wright’s sister, Brandy L. Sanderson, located near their former home at the farm.

“It’s been incredibly hard,” Ms. Wright said. “We plan to build or buy another house at the farm, but we still don’t know. We’re doing OK with clothes, but all of the furniture and appliances in the house were ours.”

The couple needs toiletries, appliances and furniture. Donations may be dropped off at 22599 County Route 3 in LaFargeville. Call Ms. Wright for more information at 399-3494.

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