MIDDLESEX — Middlesex Fire Chief Brian Oppelt credits a neighbor who wishes to remain anonymous for saving a family of five from a house fire Wednesday night.


Oppelt says the neighbor saw the flames at 1201 Mill St. at about 10 p.m. He ran to the house, and awoke the family, but by then, flames blocked the doorway, so they all escaped through a kitchen window. Two cats, a bird, a ferret, and hedgehog perished.


Oppelt says the house, rented by James E. Utter, 31, and his family, was a total loss due to fire, smoke, and water damage. Oppelt says preliminary evidence points to a discarded cigarette butt on the front porch as the cause of the fire at one of the hamlet’s oldest houses.


The family of two adults and three children are staying with family, and Jordan Utter says the community support they have received has been "amazing."


Middlesex Hose Company was assisted by Potter, Rushville, Benton, and Crystal Beach Fire Departments, Middlesex Ambulance, Yates Office of Emergency Management, and Yates County Sheriff’s Dept.


A previous version of this story reported there were two children and two adults for a family of four. There are five in the family. This update also includes information about the pets that were lost.