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House Destroyed by Fire, Family Left with Nothing but a Bill for the Water

Flickr user Anthony Quintano

It’s a horrible thing to have to lose your home, regardless of the circumstance, especially at this time of year. But could you imagine being charged for the efforts to save your home? A couple here in the Albany Area are facing just that situation.

Monday was a horrible day for Eagle Mills homeowner Mike Pretio. His house, located at 375 Garfield Road in the Brunswick area was involved in a massive fire that started around 1pm. Pretio had attempted to stop the fire himself, but couldn’t. So he did as any  normal person would, and called 911. When the Eagle Mills Fire District arrived just a minute after the 911 call was placed, they found the house completely engulfed in flames.

The massive fire took the volunteer fire department just under nine hours to douse all the flames. One would imagine with that type of water pressure for that amount of time, a lot of water was used. While the exact amount would be hard to determine, the town of Poestenkill knew exactly how much it cost them – $1,400. A bill of which they decided was to be the responsibility of the homeowners who just lost everything they had to their name.

As WTEN reports, the closest water access for the fire department to use to fight the fire belonged to the town of Poestenkill. The Poestenkill Supervisor Dominic Jocangelo explained it as being an “out-of-district water use”, and therefore residents outside of the town have to pay for water use.

Therefore, instead of the taxpayers in Poestenkill picking up the tab, it was sent to the homeowners. But don’t worry – he’s flexible on how much the bill is actually worth.

Is this for real?! How does one person get to draft a bill to someone that doesn’t even have a pen to write the check out with? According to the 2010 census, there were 4,530 people living in Poestenkill. If they split the $1,400 bill equally, they would each pay $0.31. I’m sure as a town, they’d come together to help someone in need during the holiday season – especially if it was only going to cost them $0.31.

Thomas Martin, the Fire Chief of Eagle Mills, hopes this is not going to become a reoccuring issue. Martin along with the rest of the Eagle Mills Fire District will be holding a pancake breakfast this Saturday morning, December 2nd, to raise money for the Pretio family to help pay off this unfair bill. All proceeds will go right towards the bill.

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