ASHVILLE – Later this morning at 11 a.m., the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village will be honoring a true fire hero at its location, 2695 Rt. 394 in Ashville, NY.
“Nana,” a 2yr old St. Bernard, lost her life in a tragic fire while saving the lives of her owners. On January 17th, 2012, Menash Petscher was awakened at 12:30 am by Nana relentlessly licking his face, something she had never done before. As he would soon find out, she was alerting him that there was a fire in the Petscher family’s two-story home. Menash managed to get to his wife and daughters, who were sleeping upstairs and escape the growing fire.
Unfortunately, Nana and two of the Petscher’s cats did not make it out of the house. The Petscher family believes she was either trying to find her feline companion, “Gracie”, or she became confused with all of the smoke in the house and died from smoke inhalation. Her body was found when the house was torn down. Her family was filled with both immense grief and gratitude.
Three months prior to the fire, Madelyn Petscher, age 6, attended a field trip with Holy Family Catholic Academy to the Children’s Safety Village, unbeknown to her father. He recalls that one day when she came from school she insisted that they practice their escape plan and determine their meeting place in case they ever had a fire in their home. After relentless pleading, her father gave in to her insistent wishes. As a family, they talked about what they would do if there was a fire and where they would meet. Menash opened their escape ladder, which had been in its original packaging and tucked safely under their bed. He even fastened it to the bedroom window and climbed down it, something he had never done before.
It was not until after the tragic fire that took the life of their hero, Nana, that Menash discovered the reason Madelyn had insisted on practicing a fire escape plan. Through a conversation with friends, Dr. Bill and Kay Toms, Menash came to the realization that Madelyn had attended a field trip to the Children’s Safety Village that particular day. There, she had the opportunity to practice, first-hand, a fire escape plan and was strongly encouraged to create one with her family when she got home from school. Thanks to her persistence, the family was prepared for the emergency which would later, devastatingly, take their home.
Officials at the Children’s Safety Village were so touched by the heroic efforts of Nana that they will be displaying a plaque with her picture and the title “A True Fire Hero.” In addition, They will display a photo of Madelyn and her family next to the plaque of Nana to commemorate Madelyn’s diligent efforts, which saved the lives of her family.
The Petscher family’s story particularly gripped the hearts of the members of the Board of the Children’s Safety Village. After 15 years of planning, followed by our official opening in 2010, the Petschers are the first example of safety village teachings at work. This single story makes all of the efforts worthwhile and officials are pleased that this family is with the community today. They are proud of Madelyn and thrilled to have been a part of her training.
In addition, the Invisible Fence Company of Erie, Pa. will be donating a pet resuscitation kit to the Children’s Safety Village to be given to one of the local fire departments that responded to the Petscher rescue call. They first learned of Nana’s efforts after receiving her picture and story as a submission to the Chautauqua County SPCA’s Cool Cats, Hot Dogs Contest that the Invisible Fence Company was sponsoring. The Petscher family won the contest. The Invisible Fence Company’s owners and staff were so touched by this story that they wanted to make the donation of the Pet Resuscitation Kit in Nana’s honor, in the hope that it will someday save the life of a pet.
Please feel free to join officials at the Safety Village in acknowledging Nana and Madelyn and encouraging other families to follow their example.
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