Veteran loses nearly everything, saves wife from burning home

FORT HUNTER, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local veteran lost nearly everything in a house fire. NEWS10 spoke with the family to learn more about the devastating blaze.

David Stafford had just returned from letting the dog out before bedtime when he noticed an orange glow out of his kitchen window. He and his son went out to investigate and found the house on fire, his wife and dog still inside. “I tried to run around to the front of the house, but I already locked the doors for the night, and I couldn’t get in to save the dog. My wife was upstairs sleeping,” said Stafford.

Daughter, Amber Berroa, says her mom called her from inside the burning home. “So, I answered it. And she couldn’t even get her breath to tell me while she kept saying was Amber there’s a fire and I couldn’t get to Greta. That’s all she kept saying I tried to get Greta and I can’t get Greta,”

“So, my son and I when we went out, he was behind me we got the ladders up I got my wife out from the back garage porch,” recalled Stafford.

Amber says her mother was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and a heart attack. Her mom is out of the hospital and now resting.  “They were checking my mom in the ambulance. And it was just chaos.”

As they sifted through the ashes to recover some semblance of their life, the family was able to recover some of their more treasured items.  They found pictures of ground zero when Stafford was assigned to New York City with the National Guard after the 9-11 attacks.  He was a guardsman for 23 years, and before that, he fought in Vietnam.

“These are like his military coins, his badges,” said Berroa. Her mother was asking if they were able to find a very special keepsake, nearest and dearest to her heart. “My mom lost her first baby this is from her bedroom. The first thing she said in the hospital was she would never see her face.” It seemed unlikely from the blaze; however, the family was able to recover those priceless keepsakes of their lost child.

Tragically, they were unable to save Gretta. The beloved family pet is now buried on the property behind the remains of the house.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family to help.

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