Family charged for water after blaze destroys home

An Eagle Mills, New York couple that lost their home to a fire last week, now has to pay $1,400 for the water used to combat the flames. The massive fire started at around 1 p.m. on Monday and took dozens of volunteer fire fighters nearly nine hours to put out. Fire investigators say the first unit arrived within one minute of receiving the call, but despite the quick response, the home was fully engulfed and there was not much they could do.

Homeowner Mike Pretio said he was grateful for the volunteer fire fighters who responded. He said he tried to put out the flames himself but just didn't have enough water, and called for help. The reason he has to foot the $1,400 bill: "It was an out-of-district water use," Poestenkill Supervisor Dominic Jocangelo said. He explains the town of Poestenkill established a water district restriction two years ago, and under the new rules residents outside the town have to pay for water use.

Jocangelo says it is the first time they've charged. He says he sent the bill to the homeowner and has not heard back, and that he's flexible about the amount, but that it's unfair to have taxpayers in Poestenkill foot the bill. Thomas Martin, Fire Chief of Eagle Mills, calls the bill outrageous, saying it was easier for his crew to use Poestenkill's water, given the location of the house. He's never heard of any municipality charging and he thinks it's wrong.

Martin says in the town of Brunswick, where they are located, water is always free to use, no matter where they have take it. Martin says this is the first time he's ever heard of a bill such as this happening. Martin is concerned this could become an ongoing issue. "I really hope the town board in Poestenkill can review this situation and take it into consideration to change their practice," he said.

With news video.