‘Worst fire’ Millerton has seen in years claims two lives; local community offers comfort and support
Approximately 50 firefighters from multiple area fire companies responded to a devastating house fire reported at 5902 South Elm Ave. in Millerton on Saturday morning, Nov. 6.
Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

‘Worst fire’ Millerton has seen in years claims two lives; local community offers comfort and support

MILLERTON — What began as a serene Saturday morning in the village of Millerton took a turn for the tragic as multiple area fire companies rushed to the village in response to a horrific house fire at 5902 South Elm Ave. (Route 22) on Saturday, Nov. 6.

The fire

Two people were reported to have lost their lives inside the home. At this time, the  names of the victims are not being released.

A prepared statement issued by the North East Fire District on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 7, stated the Millerton Fire Company was dispatched to the scene at 7:58 a.m. in response to a report of a possible house fire with people trapped inside.

Local residents could spot the billowing clouds of smoke from miles away, some of whom reported hearing people screaming to get out. The closer onlookers got, the more horrific the scene became. Dark smoke emerged from the house and the harsh smell of smoke escaped the home as it quickly became engulfed in flames. Neighbors stood on their lawns and front porches and watched the devastation unfold, while a handful of local officials stood on the grass, worry lining their faces.

David Runge resides nearby on West Street. He said he and his family were having a cup of coffee around 8:04 a.m. when they saw the flames shoot up in the sky. Standing across the street from the burning house, Runge said, “Let’s hope everybody got out OK.”

According to the North East Fire District’s statement, Fire Chief Jason Watson arrived within four minutes of the 911 call being dispatched and found the house fully engulfed in flames, with a report of two people still trapped inside the structure.

Watson immediately transmitted a second alarm “bringing additional equipment and manpower from fire companies in Amenia, Wassaic, Copake, Ancram and Hillsdale and Town of North East Medic 1, as well as from Lakeville, Sharon, Falls Village Fire Companies in neighboring Connecticut,” according to the district's press release.

The Pine Plains Hose Company was on standby at the Millerton fire station.

Overall, North East Fire Commission Chairman Stephen Valyou said approximately 50 firefighters were on hand fighting the blaze.

Once the first fire engine arrived on scene, it immediately began using compressed air foam to suppress the fire.

Among the reported injuries,  one female was transported to the hospital by for smoke inhalation, while a firefighter was transported for an injury.

The fire was contained by 11:44 a.m., but firefighters did not leave the scene until 7:30 p.m.

Reflecting on the events of the fire, Fire Commissioner Joshua Schultz said this is the largest fire the North East Fire District has responded to in years.

“It’s not my first fatal fire,” Schultz said, “but it is definitely one of the worst the first district has responded to.”

Valyou commended Watson for performing his duty as fire chief exceptionally well.

“He had everything organized; had the mutual aid that he needed, had all the bases covered.”

Both the cause and origin of the fire are currently being investigated by the Dutchess County Fire Investigation team, which was on hand early Sunday morning and for much of that day, along with the New York State Police and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office.

community’s response

In the days following the devastation, the Millerton community banded together to offer its support and comfort to the families who lost their home and loved ones to the fire.

A Go Fund Me page was set up by Millerton resident Monica Baker at around 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, Nov. 7. The need was described on the page: “Please support a Millerton, N.Y., family who experienced a tragic house fire. Amy Yang is a local business owner and mother of 4. The house fire has inflicted unimaginable pain and loss on Amy and her family. Tragically, the Yang family already lost their father when he passed away suddenly a few years ago. Now more loss. They need our support. Please help in any way you can.”

Though the page’s initial goal was $10,000, the goal was surpassed within a few hours and increased to $20,000, then $30,000. By Tuesday morning, Nov. 9, the Go Fund Me Page raised more than $80,500, vastly surpassing its $30,000 goal. Community members are invited to donate by visiting the page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-the-yang-family-after-devastating-fire

Amy Yang is the owner of the Chinese restaurant in Millerton, the Golden Wok, located at Railroad Plaza near the intersection of Main Street and Route 22. According to Dutchess County’s 2021 Final Assessment Roll, Yang was identified as the owner of the property at 5902 South Elm Ave.

A sign was posted on the restaurant’s door announcing Golden Wok would be closed until further notice. Devastated by the events of the past 24 hours, Yang chose not to comment on the fire.

On behalf of the town of North East, North East Supervisor Chris Kennan extended the town’s deepest condolences to Yang and her family in a statement released late Sunday afternoon.

“This is a time that gives meaning to the word ‘community’,” Kennan said in his statement. “She and her family are part of ours, and we hold them all in our collective arms.”

Included in his town statement, Kennan identified Yang as the individual that was hospitalized after the fire and announced that she has since been released. As more details of the fire come to light, he commended the “many outstanding instances of community spirit, courage and selflessness” that have emerged in response to the tragedy.

Online, the “Millerton Amenia Community Forum” Facebook page has been bursting with posts from community members concerned about the families that are now struggling to find a place to stay. Among those who posted, Cary Farrar notified viewers that the village is working on identifying needs for the family per the mayor’s office and will be posting information on the village’s social media page as soon as they have the information available.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m., the Millerton Fire Company will hold an open community debriefing at 29 Century Blvd., to provide the community with a venue in which to talk about their feelings over the fire’s impact.

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