Police & Fire

Martinez Family Rises From the Ashes

f52acec6c375f3624ed8_40231_.JPG
Madison, Alison and Chloe Martinez stand in the driveway of where their home once stood before being destroyed by a fire last month. The family plans to rebuilt on the very same spot. Credits: Bob Dumas
725d0c2c6e552d7e1e85_40308_.jpg
The Martinez fire as seen from a neighbor’s property Credits: Bob Dumas
f52acec6c375f3624ed8_40231_.JPG

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Madison Martinez wasn’t even supposed to be home the Monday afternoon of April 18. But her class at Providence College had been cancelled so she decided to postpone her departure one more day.

Madison was in her 12 Mega Lane home on the Mahopac/Carmel border doing homework on her laptop while waiting for her laundry to finish. Her 16-year-old sister, Chloe, was taking a nap. Her mom, Alison, who works for a Wall Street financial firm, was at work. That was when Madison smelled something strange.

“I thought I smelled something weird, but it didn’t really smell like a fire—not like wood burning,” said Madison, who turned 22 last week. “I got up and looked around the corner and I saw smoke and flames through the window out on the porch. There were no fire alarms going off because it was outside. I just started screaming for Chloe to get up.”

Sign Up for E-News

Madison, who was a cheerleader in high school, is pretty adept at screaming.

“When she yells, it’s pretty scary,” Chloe laughed. “I didn’t know what she was yelling about. I was half asleep and I was confused.”

Both girls got out of the house quickly. Chloe just wrapped a comforter around herself, while Madison grabbed her laptop as well as her mom’s computer and ushered the family dogs out of the house. They made their way to a neighbor’s lawn.

“I put the laptops down,” she said. “There was nothing more we could do. I called my mom.”

The house was a complete inferno before the fire department would even arrive.

“The house was 25 years old, but it was solidly built,” Alison said. “But it had cedar siding and the wind really whipped it around the house. The conditions were horrendous.”

Alison was on a train on her way home from work when the call from her daughter came.

“I didn’t recognize the number because she was using someone else’s phone and I answered it and she screamed, ‘Mommy the house is on fire! The house is on fire! It’s gone...it’s gone,’” Alison recalled. “And the phone went dead. I was still 40 minutes out on the train—still in White Plains. It was the longest train ride of my life; it was surreal. But at least I knew they were OK. And by the time I got there it was pretty much done.”

The fire destroyed everything—burning the house to the ground and leaving the Martinez women with nothing but the clothes on their backs, the two laptops and their two dogs. In fact, the house was so decimated that fire investigators said they couldn’t determine a cause. However, the Martinez’s are pretty sure they know.

“The fire started exactly where the dryer vent came out underneath the porch,” Alison said. “We had an investigator who has been doing this for over 30 years come down from Boston and he interviewed the neighbors. They saw [what the girls] saw; It was very centrally located right underneath my [home office] window and the porch that was made of mahogany and every year stained with oil. Madison had just been using the dryer for clothes she was getting ready to bring back to college. They think it started in the [vent] and was looking for oxygen and with the [windy] conditions it was pulled out and...Boom!”

But it was hard for the fire investigators to say conclusively that was the way it started.

“The dryer was in a million pieces and there was no evidence that they could reconstruct,” Alison said.

It wasn’t long before the family’s friends and neighbors—and eventually the entire community, including strangers—began to rally around them.

Alison’s close friend and neighbor, Lydia Mercurio, actually went to Marshalls while the fire was still raging and bought the women clothes and other items she knew they would need.

“She bought us all the basics—yoga paints, pajamas, underwear, socks, sweaters, sweatshirts, toothpaste, toothbrushes, blow dryers,” said Madison.

Mercurio and her boyfriend invited the women to stay with them while they figured out their next move.

“We lost everything, but we had each other,” Madison said.

“We have our [difficult] moments, but we pick each other up,” Alison said. “The community has been amazing.”

Alison said that everyone in the community from Mahopac to Carmel reached out to her—dropping food off and gift cards and starting their own little fundraisers, including the cheerleading squad, and all the restaurants that give them gift cards so the family could eat there.

“It’s been overwhelming the love and support we’ve received,” Alison said.

Alison said that Ramiro’s restaurant in Mahopac has been particularly supportive and that Jan Jimenez, one of its co-owners took a particular interest in them

“Jan is an amazing woman,” Alison said. “She’s been collecting clothes for us. We were eating there and she sat down with us and said, ‘What are we going to do? What sizes do you where? I am on this.’”

Alison called the list of community members who helped them out “endless.”

“It’s started with our closest neighbor and has just gone out from that,” she said. “Strangers have helped out. I had stranger come up and bring me brownies and a gift card. Unbelievable.”

Alison said their insurance company has been extremely helpful throughout the ordeal.

“We still have to pay a mortgage on a house that is not there, but the insurance company has been wonderful,” she said. “They helped with the rental house we just moved into and provided us rental furniture that was just delivered today.”

The plan, Alison said, is to eventually rebuild their house right on the spot where the old one stood.

“[The rental home] is another stepping stone and hopefully within a year this house will be rebuilt,” she said.

Alison’s son, R.J. Martinez, was a star basketball player a few years ago for Mahopac High and was nicknamed “the Goose.” His friends and teammates referred to the house as the Goose Nest.

“They were devastated that the Goose Nest is gone,” Alison said. “All of them would come here and hang out. We have known them for years. But the Goose Nest will be rebuilt.”

Alison said she’s been working with the town’s building department to find the home’s blueprints to they can collaborate with an architect to start the rebuilding process. Last Thursday, work crews were already in the process of cleaning up the site.

“It will pretty much be the same house. We loved our house,” she said. “We might tweak a few things, but it will pretty much the same. We were not ready to go and that [fire] is not going to make us go. I am not going to leave the neighborhood that I have loved for 17 years like this.”

Someday, she hopes to pay back the kindnesses that have been shown to her and her family.

“I will find a way to pay it forward and say thank you,” Alison said. “It’s a horrible thing to happen to someone but I have the community and my friends to thank and the way they came together was amazing.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

Facebook, Fools, Friends and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Since its inception, Facebook has been a regular target of mockery and criticism—everything from, “Do I really need to see a picture of the pastrami sandwich you had for lunch?” to “Why did you help the Russians get Donald Trump elected?”

No one likes to mock and criticize more than I do—just ask all of my former friends. And while I agree that Facebook can ...

It Was the Economy That Got Trump Elected

I am not easily shocked by much anymore. Yet, I was by last week’s column by fellow columnist Bernie Kosberg. Kosberg, whose column runs regularly in Mahopac News and sometimes in Yorktown News, said in the first paragraph: “Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of ...

God Is Just! Schneiderman Is Out!

Whenever you doubt that God is just, remember last Monday. That is the day New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned.

As you know, I have had him in my sights for a long time. He has squandered our tax dollars with more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration. Plus, his lawsuits against Big Oil and trying to nullify our double jeopardy laws. Most will go nowhere as ...

It Wasn’t About the Economy or Jobs

Soon after President Trump was “crowned” by the Electoral College in November 2016, I wrote a column about Putnam County voters that garnered some attention—both good and bad. Several readers decried my conclusion that the overwhelming support of Putnam County voters for Trump was not due to economic anxiety or the unavailability of suitable jobs, but to the overarching fear ...

BOCES… What’s in a Name?

Do you ever wonder what BOCES stands for? We associate the name with a center of learning that supplements the general curriculum of local high schools by teaching students specialized trades. Beyond that, does everyone in the non-BOCES population, those who have no direct connection to the programs, fully appreciate the priceless value it brings to our communities’ young adults and their ...

Bias in Media, in Me, in You

While listening to an interview with a voter on my car radio, I thought I had excess ear wax that obstructed my hearing. The voter (whose name is Bruce) said this about one of the qualifications that a Senate or House candidate must have to earn his vote: “I don’t want anyone with ideas. We have enough of those already.”

I’m a journalist and have been one my entire ...

Dog Allergies, Part Deux

“I have some good news and I have some bad news,” I told my husband.

“Give me the good news first.”

“OK. The vet doesn’t think the dog’s ear infections are from a food allergy after all, so we don’t have to keep feeding him that hypo-allergenic food,” I said.

“Hallelujah,” shouted my husband. He was understandably ...

Cross My Legs and Hope to Die

One morning, I had a big cup of coffee as I usually do, and then I got in the car and drove 40 minutes to a clothing store I had been curious to check out. I don’t normally drive 40 minutes to go shopping, but since I am a stay-at-home mom and everyone knows we stay-at-home moms just spend our time shopping and eating bonbons, I figured, “What the hey.”

Having had the ...

CD Release Concert - New Middle Class at Putnam Arts Council

May 23, 2018

Press Release




Contact: Mike Borok  info@newmiddleclass.com

Phone: (914) 962-0120


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 19, 2018


Putnam Arts Council Hosts CD Release Concert featuring New Middle Class, with Dan Pelletier & Wendy Cody

MAHOPAC, ny: On Saturday evening, June 16, 2018, the Putnam Arts Council will host a concert ...