Clutter in man’s house hindered firefighters

Firemen, checking for a rekindle of a fire Wednesday night, remove debris apparently hoarded by the owner

PORT JERVIS – A Port Jervis resident who was displaced Wednesday evening as a result of a second-alarm fire in his 210 New Ball Street home, sustained singed hair, minor burns on his arms, and the loss of his pet macaw.  

Alan Joseph Kaszuba, 66, told Port Jervis Police officers, who arrived on scene shortly after 7:48 p.m. and observed a working structure fire, that he was only one in the home. He told police, despite visible minor burns on his arms, that he was not in pain but would go to the hospital to be checked out.  An update on his status was not available as of Thursday morning.

Kaszuba’s house and property were jam-packed with items that did hinder a fast extinguishment of the fire.  Reported smoke coming from the house caused the return of some of Port Jervis Fire Department’s firefighters and Howard Wheat Engine Co. No. 4’s apparatus to the scene Thursday morning.

Kaszuba told police that he had been getting ready to make dinner when he observed an orange flame on his back porch.  He stated that he tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, but that the extinguisher was dead. He said his house was heated with a wood stove, located in the rear of the house, off the dining room, and that he believed the blaze may have started in his chimney.

According to neighbors at the scene Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning, Kaszuba was referenced as a ‘hoarder’ but quiet man and neighbor.  They said he had lived there for many decades, likely between 40-50 years. They said they saw Kaszuba exit the house, but then attempt to go back in to get his pet bird out. The bird could be seen in a large cage having been removed to the front lawn as firefighters fought the fire. 

Kaszuba told police that the bird was uninjured, and arrangements were made to store it in the bay of Howard Wheat Engine Co. #4 Wednesday night.   However, due to its ultimate demise at the scene, this did not happen. The bird remained in its cage, covered by a white cloth as of this morning.

Police contacted the American Red Cross regarding emergency housing for the resident.  His location, status, and further information were unable to be acquired as of Thursday morning.

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