Dundee area home destroyed by fire

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
Eleven volunteer fire companies responded to fight the fire at the Sorce home on Log City Road the night of July 25.

STARKEY – A home in the town of Starkey was destroyed by a fire reported at 8:24 p.m. Sunday, July 25 when Yates County 911 received a report of a porch on fire at 4556 Log City Road. 

Dundee Fire Department was the first on the scene and reported fire through the roof of the residence of Nicholas & Heather (Searles) Sorce. That brought responses from Himrod, Penn Yan, Dresden, Watkins Glen, Montour Falls, Tyrone, Wayne, Branchport-Keuka Park, Benton, and West Lake Road fire departments, as well as Dundee and Schuyler ambulances, and Yates County Emergency Management, and the Yates County Fire Investigation Team. 

The fire is believed to have begun on the back porch of the home, then spread through the balloon framing to the upper floors and roof.

Yates County sheriff’s deputies say four adults and three children under the age of 16 who were in the home at the time were able to exit without injury, and were aided by the Red Cross. One firefighter was transported from the scene to Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital for a check-over from bee stings sustained earlier in the day at another scene. 

The entire house sustained heavy fire, smoke, and water damage and is deemed a total loss. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but arson is not suspected.

The Yates County Fire Investigation Team is focusing on the back porch of the home where they believe the fire began.
Pickles, the Sorce family's beloved dog, was later found to have perished by asphyxia.

The Sorce family had hoped their dog, Pickles, a 5-year-old wire-haired Jack Russell terrier, had escaped the fire and was hiding nearby. However, as friends and neighbors arrived Thursday morning to clear the house of the family’s possessions, Pickles was found in a bathroom having died of asphyxia.

Thursday morning, July 29, around 25 Mennonite farmers arrived to help the family clear out the debris and try to salvage what possessions they could.

As sad as that news was, Nick Sorce says the response from the community has been “tremendous.” While the house cannot be saved, Nick and Heather say they will rebuild their home: “We love it there and we love our neighbors.” Those neighbors, including about 25 Mennonite farmers, loaded three dumpsters full of the fire’s debris. Nick says the house was entirely cleared before 1 p.m.


Friends and family have coordinated drop-off locations for donations to the Sorce family, including James, 13, Nicholas, 11, Micaela, 9, and Sophia, 5: 

Physical items may be left on covered porches at each address below.

• 111 Lawrence St., Penn Yan

• 130 Brown St., Penn Yan

• 563 Hayes Road, Dundee

• 402 Steuben St., Watkins Glen

Monetary donations can be made at any Five Star Bank location. Inform the teller your donation is for an account for Nicholas and Heather Sorce and they’ll assist you.

The Sorces extend their deepest appreciation to all the service workers, firefighters from all the departments on scene, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, ambulance crew members, and fire investigators, as well as their insurance agent, the code inspector, and the Red Cross.