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5 teens dead in Genesee, Pa. house fire, 2 adults hospitalized

Photo by Kellen M. Quigley

The remains of the Erway home on Slingerland Road in Genesee, Pa. where five teenagers died in a fire that engulfed the home. Two adults were hospitalized.


By KELLEN M. QUIGLEY

GENESEE, Pa. — Five teenagers died in a house fire early Monday morning at Slingerland Road in the Potter County community of Genesee while two adults have been hospitalized.
The fire broke out between 2:30 and 3 a.m. at the home of Charlie and Michele Erway, according to Wayne Erway, Charlie’s father, who lives next door. He said emergency responders arrived between 3 and 3:30 a.m.

“When I come to, I was down in the front room sitting in the chair and I thought I heard a, ‘Boom!’” Wayne Erway said. “(Charlie) usually goes to work toward the morning, and I thought at first he had started his car. But when I looked out here, it wasn’t car lights I was looking at. The house was pretty well engulfed.”

Wayne Erway said it was Charlie and Michele Erway’s three children as well as two other youths who were staying in the house who perished in the fire.

Pennsylvania State Police reported that Charlie and Michele Erway were able to escape the burning home; both were flown by medical helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. The victims were a 14-year-old male, a 16-year-old male and a 17-year-old male, and two 16-year-old females. The names of the victims were not released.

As for the fire’s origin, Wayne Erway suspected it broke out from a wood stove in the home’s basement.
State police fire investigators were looking into the cause of the fire.

Local residents in Reed’s Market, on the corner of Main and Commercial streets in the heart of the community, expressed shock and sorrow over the loss.

“They’ve always lived here and always been very involved in the community,” said one Genesee woman who asked to not be identified.

She said Charlie Erway’s mother had served on the library board when she worked at the library, and he was one of the woman’s Cub Scouts.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” she said.

Although they didn’t know the family personally, employees at Reed’s said the Erways would stop in to shop and most people in the community knew who they were and would see them around town.

“The community is just devastated,” said Lori Prince, who was working behind the deli counter. “Whether you knew them or not, just losing that many kids. …”

Prince said she expects the entire community will come together to support the Erway family, such as with donation cans in the local businesses.

“It’s just a sad situation,” another employee said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Erways by family friend Rene Smith. Visit gofundme.com and search “Please help Charlie and Michele Erway” for more information.

Smith said the Erways have been part of the Allegany County (N.Y.) Fair 4-H and the Potter County Fair. She said they are known for their Me and My Boys goat milk products.

A GoFundMe page was set up for one of the fire’s victims, 16-year-old Krysta Kane of Scio, N.Y., by her aunt, Melissa Stocking.

A third GoFundMe page was also started for another victim of the fire, Mikalah Roulo.

The names and ages of the other four children were not available as of Monday evening.

The Genesee Volunteer Fire Department responded, along with several other departments in northern Pennsylvania and New York state.