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Helena fire chief drags Brasher woman away from burning SUV

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BRASHER CENTER— A Brasher Center woman suffered burns to her face, neck and hands in a Tuesday morning that destroyed the garafge at her residence on the banks of the St. Regis River near Brasher Center..

Helena Fire Department responded to the fire at the Martha Grow residence, 1310 B County Route 53, at about 8:15 a.m.

Helena Fire Chief Frank Burns said he had driven by the residence, set back several yards from the roadway in a wooded area only a couple minutes before the fire call went out. “I didn’t see anything when I went by but I could see the smoke in the air when I turned around after the call went out,” he recalled.

He said when he arrived at the fire scene he was greeted by a neighbor who had made the 911 call. “She was frantic. She told me she was in the car, burning up,” Mr. Burns said, noting he then raced to the garage area.

“The building was fully engulfed. The front of the vehicle was on fire, and she was sitting in it,” he said.

The Helena fire chief, who also serves as a deputy county fire coordinator, said he went to grab the door handle of the Ford Explorer, but it was extremely hot and the intensity of the fire made him back away a few yards before making a second approach. “When I got back to the vehicle, she had opened the door and kind of rolled out. She was confused, disoriented,” he said, noting he grabbed Ms. Grow and pulled her away from the burning vehicle. “Right after I got her out the front window blew out of the vehicle. It could have been a lot worse,” Mr. Burns noted.

He said the home, which was approximately 20 to 25 feet away from the two-story garage, suffered only minor damage. “It was hot but fortunately it was a log house, making it hard to get a fire started. But windows had started to break in the house, and there may be some smoke damage,” according to the Helena fire chief.

The cause of the fire that destroyed the garage remains under investigation.

The seriousness of Ms. Grow’s injuries is unknown.

Brasher-Winthrop, North Lawrence and Hogansburg-Akwesasne fire departments offered mutual aid, and Tri-Town Rescue responded to the fire scene. They transported Ms. Grow to Canton-Potsdam Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Ms. Grow is the widow of former St. Lawrence County Legislator Thomas Grow. She has long been active in community affairs.

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