Fulton County crews rescue man, fight fire at Ephratah restaurant

EPHRATAH – When fire broke out at the popular Royal Mountain Inn early Sunday morning, one of the owners, who lived upstairs, was trapped by the thick smoke. He smashed an upstairs window to get out.

Authorities say he was reluctant to jump because of recent surgery.

Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Hoagboon helped get him down, as St. Johnsville Ambulance arrived.

“He was just getting off the roof, so I went over and I ran to him. He was kind of running towards us and I hurried up and took him down a little ways to the ambulance to get him away from all the smoke,” said EMT Aimeelynn Ahumada.

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“He had recently had cataract surgery, so he had a bandage on his eye also,” said paramedic Joseph Hanifin. “We checked him out really well. Kept him in the rig to cool off. It was a warm night.”

They also helped to save the owner’s car.

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“Our ambulance crew actually helped him physically push his vehicle away, so his vehicle wasn’t destroyed in the fire,” said St. Johnsville Ambulance Operations Chief Shannon Countryman. “When I arrived, paramedic Hanifin was actually on a hose line at the back, assisting, putting water on the fire. So occasionally we’ll find that our EMS crews do a lot more than provide EMS at scenes.”

The restaurant is heavily damaged.

In the early morning hours Sunday, the Rockwood-Garoga-Lassellsville Volunteer Fire Company was helped by five other departments. Chief Mark Souza says they did a great job on a tough fire.

“The problem we have is years ago, we might be able to do this with two or three fire departments,” said RGL Chief Mark Souza. “Now we’re doing it with six. Manpower is dwindling, the volunteers.”

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It’s early yet, but the owners say they hope to build back better.

“It was a great place,” said Chief Souza. “It was here for years. The staff here is all family, so it’s not just the owner of the business, it’s his whole family got affected by this.”

The Royal Mountain Inn family, the Sarantopoulos family, says they will forever be thankful for the emergency responders. They also want to give thanks to the customers who showed support and reached out with offers of food or a place to stay.