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Dexter house blaze caused by heater tipped in fight

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DEXTER — A kerosene heater kicked over during a scuffle between a father and his son caused Monday’s fire that destroyed a two-story house on Route 180.

Despite the scuffle, investigators ruled that the blaze at 22973 Route 180, near Route 12F and next to Burns Nursery and Landscaping, was accidental, Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Director Joseph D. Plummer said Tuesday.

The father, Gregory A. Hamilton, and his son, Christian, 17, were initially taken by ambulance to Samaritan Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and then transferred to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse. They were listed Tuesday in fair condition with what was described as non-life-threatening injuries.

After the scuffle on the first floor, the teen went upstairs to either retrieve some items or extinguish the blaze and became trapped on the second floor, Mr. Plummer said. The teen jumped out of a second-floor window to escape the fast-moving blaze, while the father got to safety through a first-floor door.

Senior Investigator Michael C. Pastuf said Tuesday he does not foresee any charges pending against either of the two since the fire was accidental.

“What we got is things happening that shouldn’t have and a bad outcome,” he said.

The fire was reported about 5 p.m. Monday. The father and son unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the fire with water, Mr. Pastuf said.

By the time firefighters arrived, the two-story house was engulfed by flames. Dexter Fire Chief Gerald A. Kostyk said Monday that the home, built in 1870, was a total loss.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen billowing in the sky from about two miles away. It was difficult to battle because temperatures plummeted into the teens and a frigid wind kicked up.

Firefighters were at the scene for more than four hours. Departments from Dexter, Brownville and Sackets Harbor responded to fight the fire.

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