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Walden home destroyed in fire

January 9th, 2013

A Walden family escaped injury in a blaze on Friday night that incinerated their home and all of their possessions—but not their faith. “I think we had some guardian angels looking out for us,” said Melanie Nixon, who lived in the home with her husband, three children and a dog.

The Walden Fire Department responded to the fire at 46 Seeley Street at 10:30 p.m. on Friday to find the fire fully involved.

“Upon my arrival I had heavy fire venting out of one window and the front door,” said Jody Doherty, acting chief of the Walden Fire Dept.

The family had lived in the home for only a year and a half and Nixon said it was their second winter using the woodstove. The smoke from it, which didn’t seem abnormal, was bothering her as she had been sick all day and had a migraine. Finally, she decided to pack up the kids, including her infant son, and head over to their grandmother’s house. There was no one home at the time of the fire.

“There was heavy damage done to the first floor with the fire, water and smoke, as well as heavy smoke and water damage to the rest of the house,” said Doherty. “The Walden Fire Department had this fire under control within 30 minutes of getting in scene.”

Doherty said the Walden Fire Department was assisted by mutual aid from Montgomery and a fast team from Coldenham, with Wallkill and Maybrook on standby.

Nixon said she and her family wished to express their gratitude to the firefighters and their neighbors. While the home is considered a total loss, they know it could have been much worse and were thankful the fire didn’t spread to their neighbors’ homes.

“Nobody was hurt, that’s the most important thing,” said Nixon.

The family is currently staying with Nixon’s parents, who had three rooms open up in their home just the week before. Their church and community has already come together and responded with a flood of donations. Nixon says that their needs have already been met and she’s even been able to make a donation herself to TLC of the overabundance of clothing that has been donated.

Their home is to be rebuilt and the contractor has told them that it will take approximately 8-10 months to complete, more or less. They should be back in their home in time for their next Christmas.

When a friend returned to their home on Saturday, they found that everything had been reduced to charred ruin, with the exception of their Nativity figurines which had dropped through a hole in the upstairs to the living room below and remained intact. Nearby, a children’s story about the birth of Christ lay open and barely singed, the lone bright spot in the room. As they walked past, the book began to automatically read the story aloud.

“Little things like this and the book are such special reminders of God’s presence in the middle of our storm,” said Nixon. “It’s amazing. I can see so clearly the fingerprints of God all over it.”

The fire is still under investigation by the Orange County Fire Investigators, however Nixon said she has been told that a crack in the chimney was the likely cause of the fire.

By Rachel Coleman

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