FORT HUNTER, N.Y. (WTEN) – A veteran saved his wife’s life as fire ripped through their upstate New York home, but lost nearly everything else in the recent blaze, including the beloved family pet.
David Stafford had just taken the dog out and returned to the house when he noticed an orange glow outside his kitchen window. He and his son went out to investigate and found the house on fire, with his wife and dog, Greta, still inside.
“So, my son and I, when we went out, he was behind me [and] we got the ladders up, I got my wife out from the back garage porch,” recalled Stafford. “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.”
Daughter Amber Berroa said her mom, who was sleeping before the fire broke out, called her from inside the burning home.
“So, I answered it,” Berroa recalled. “And she couldn’t even get her breath to tell me … all 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.’”
Amber said her mother was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and a heart attack. Her mother 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 …the first thing she said in the hospital was she would never see her face.”
Against the odds, however, the family was able to recover the priceless keepsakes of their lost child.
Tragically, they were unable to save Greta. The beloved family pet is now buried on the property behind the remains of the house.
A friend of David Stafford’s grandson has organized a GoFundMe to help the family.