MAHOPAC, N.Y. - A fire tore through the home of a well-known Mahopac family Wednesday, June 20, leaving them homeless but unharmed.
The Hilltop Street home of Faith Ann and David Butcher and their four children sustained heavy fire, smoke, heat and water damage. The family was able to escape with their two dogs and a tortoise they were caring for, as well as a laptop and some “important paperwork.”
“It’s only stuff; it can be replaced,” said Faith Ann Butcher, who is chair of the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees, executive director of Community Cares, a press aide for Putnam County government and a member of the Lake Mahopac Rotary Club. “That anything is salvageable is questionable. We have the important paperwork, but it’s kind of soggy right now.”
Her husband, David, works for J Philip Real Estate.
Butcher, an award-winning journalist and former employee of Halston Media, which owns Mahopac News, said when the fire broke out—after she was sure everyone was safe—her journalistic instincts kicked in and she started taking pictures.
“I know that sounds crazy,” she said. “My house is burning and I’m taking pictures.”
Mahopac Fire Chief Bill Nikisher said the call came in at around 9:40 p.m. and the first firefighters on the scene discovered heavy smoke and flames.
“The flames in the back bedroom had already gone through the roof,” he said. “Everyone was already out of the house. The Carmel PD made sure of it.”
Butcher said three of her four children were home at the time of the blaze.
“The lights were flickering, so we thought something was wrong,” she said. “We got up and saw the flames and got out.”
Nikisher said the Putnam County Fire Cause and Origin Team determined a faulty extension cord in a back bedroom was the cause of the fire.
Nikisher said that more than 50 firefighters were on the scene and had the blaze under control and knocked down within 15 minutes. However, he said, crews remained on the scene until nearly 2 a.m. He said no injuries were reported.
The Butchers had been renting the Hilltop home and are now staying with relatives until they figure out their next move.
“We are absolutely staying in Mahopac,” Butcher said. “The kids are part of the community and we wouldn’t change that.”
The Butchers lost just about everything in the fire and a GoFundMe page has been started to help them get back on their feet. To donate, go to GoFundMe and search for “Butcher family lost everything.”