Guilderland family salvaging memories from devastating fire

GUILDERLAND – The Stafford family has created countless memories at their home on East Lydius Street home over the past few decades. Those memories were turned to ashes Sunday night.

Fire destroys home, military memories

A Guilderland family was combing through the ashes of their former home, destroyed by fire, hoping to salvage as many memories as possible.

With bright, orange flames illuminating the sky, there was an inferno inside the home. Nora Stafford, who had just finished working a double shift at an area nursing home, was already asleep in bed. Just before midnight, her dog began barking.

“I went running downstairs and I saw the kitchen door was open a little bit, and I saw the flames,” she recalled. “Then they started going across the top of the ceiling and I wanted to try to run into the living room to save the dog, but I couldn’t, so I ran back up the steps, but it seems everything (flames and smoke) just followed me up the stairs. Then the power went out, and once the power went out I couldn’t see anything.”

Guilderland fire destroys home, memorabilia

The Stafford family of East Lydius Street in Guiderland is spending their week sifting through ashes, salvaging anything they can from a fire that destroyed their home.

While Nora was trapped inside on the second floor, her husband, David, and her son were outside the home, unable to get back in.

“I couldn’t get back in the back door, so I ran around to the front of the house to the front door,” David said, “I already locked it for the night. I don’t have my keys. I don’t have my cellphone. So I run back around to the side of the house, me and my son, and put the ladder up.”

Nora was rescued but Greta, the family’s 8-month old Doberman, never made it out.

The family has spent most of this week salvaging what ever they could. David, a Vietnam era veteran was able to retrieve some of his military memorabilia. Family photos dating back generations were gone.

Grandson, Michael Berroa, who is finishing up Army basic training at Fort Gregg Adams in Virginia, caught the first flight home to be with his family.

“When I got to come home, and I actually got to hug them and be physically here with them, it felt a lot better,” Berroa said, “I’m grateful that (my grandparents) are still here.”

The Staffords said they intend to rebuild a new home on their old property so that they can resume creating more family memories.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family get back on their feet.

In addition, a fundraiser will be held at Apex Entertainment (Crossgates Mall) on November 25, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Michael Berroa is flying back to Virginia, where he will graduate from basic training next Friday.