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House sitter dies after fire breaks out in Alexander residence known as 'the old school house'

UPDATED 7:56 a.m.

A man house sitting for a hospitalized friend at a residence known to neighbors as "the old school house" at 11030 Sandpit Road, Alexander, died Sunday evening after a fire broke out near the front of the building.

The victim has been identified as Scott A. Cramer, 47, of 11000 Sandpit Road, Alexander.

Investigators have determined the likely cause of the fire was electrical.

Cramer was found about 15 feet inside the doorway, which was initially blocked by flames. Once the fire was knocked down and the safety of the crew assured, firefighters were able to enter the residence to look for Cramer.

The Sheriff's Office reports that Cramer was pronounced dead at UMMC.

The fire was reported by neighbors and a member of the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department, who spotted flames coming from the front of the house as he drove past.

Both the neighbor and the firefighter attempted to locate the man inside, but he did not respond to calls and the flames were already blocking the entrance.

"I was hollering," Grant Whitmore said. "I couldn't get anything from the front door, so I went to the back of the house. There was a screen there and I was hollering, but I didn't hear anything."

Whitmore said there was a fire extinguisher near the front entrance of the house, which he tried using, but it proved ineffective against the size of fire that had already developed.

Tim Yaeger, emergency management coordinator for Genesee County, said there was only one way in or out of the residence and that was the front door.

Firefighters first knocked down the flames, but then entry was delayed because the area above the entrance was used for storage. There was a TV and filing cabinet in the space and fire crews were concerned about the soundness of the structure at that point.

"They were concerned about their safety, being trapped in there, so they had to make sure it was safe," Yaeger said.

Once found, Cramer was immediately taken out and brought to a Mercy EMS ambulance and transported to UMMC. Medics attempted CPR on Cramer from the time he was brought out of the residence and during his transport to the hospital.

The man was house sitting, watching over the property and taking care of the pets, while the homeowner is hospitalized at UMMC, Whitmore and Yaeger said.

There's no word on the fate of the pets.

The property owner is listed on county records as Joseph Snyder. The structure was built in 1850. The front of the structure, a later add-on, was heavily damaged in the fire.

Whitmore said Cramer had been house sitting for a week, possibly two, and that he often attended church with Whitmore and another friend. 

Fire investigators were working late into the night trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Along with Alexander Fire, Bethany, Darien and Attica fire departments responded to the scene. Town of Batavia's ladder truck was dispatched, but stayed at Alexander's fire hall on standby.

The Sheriff's Office is assisting in the fire investigation.

NOTE: We'll update this story with more information once it's released by the Sheriff's Office.

bob hilchey
bobhilchey's picture
Joined: Jan 23 2013

great job by the alexander fd !!!

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