Created: September 30, 2021 05:37 AM
SCHOHARIE - It was before daybreak Wednesday morning when people living along Main Street in Schoharie were awakened by the horrifying sight of raging, bright orange flames consuming the home at 385 Main Street.
"You could hear glass just exploding and melting out the windows, and you could see the plumes of fire shoot out every window," said Kristian Welch, a neighbor.
Seeing the tragedy unfolding right before their eyes, neighbors sprung into action.
"All three of us ran across the street, yelling to see if there's anyone in the house. I went to bang on the back door, but no one answered. We came around to the front and a gentleman came around and said that his mom was still inside, but he couldn't get her," Robert Jenks explained.
Despite the heroic efforts by many, 74-year-old Nancy Oliver perished in the fire.
"Her son was staying with her at the time. He tried everything. Some passerby tried, neighbors, and the fire was just working against everybody," Schoharie Fire Chief Marty Pearce said.
Chief Pearce says everyone in the Oliver family is a former member of the volunteer fire department. The Oliver family donated their home for more than two years to dozens of strangers who came to town to help out after the floods a decade ago.
"Well, obviously everyone's heart is breaking. This is a family that's been around for a really long time, and they contributed so much to the community over time," Sarah Goodrich explained.
Goodrich knew Nancy Oliver as an active and generous member of the Schoharie Reformed Church.
In the wake of the tragedy, the community is rediscovering something about themselves they've already learned living through previous catastrophes.
"If nothing else, you learn you can and that you survive. Not only survive, but keep going, and you figure out why it is important for you to do that in the process," Goodrich said. "I think this fact that people do respond, it's like my life is part of your life. We are all invested in each other."
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