Cause of fire at city home unknown

GLOVERSVILLE – City fire officials were still working today to determine the cause of the Fifth Avenue house fire Wednesday night that claimed the life of a 41-year-old man.

Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam said this morning she can’t say yet what was to blame for the fire at 34 Fifth Ave., which claimed the life of Donald E. Larimore, who was visiting the residence, and injured resident Marcus E. VanSlyke, 66.

“I am working with the [Police Department] and [Office of Fire Prevention and Control] today and as soon as we have something, we will be in touch,” Chief Whitman-Putnam told a reporter.

An autopsy conducted Friday at Albany Medical Center Hospital by pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica revealed that Donald E. Larimore died from asphyxia due to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide intoxication, Sgt. Mark Porter said this morning.

“We are still investigating the incident and we are not exactly sure why he wasn’t able to get out,” Porter said. “Certainly, being overcome by smoke would be one reason why he wouldn’t be able to get out, but we are still interviewing people from the house. We may never know why he wasn’t able to get out, but we are still trying to figure that out.”

He said Larimore was found on the first floor of the residence in the kitchen by firefighters on the scene.

Police said Larimore lived in Gloversville, but police did not have an address for him.

The Fire Department issued a news release Thursday that indicated firefighters were dispatched to the house fire at 9:02 p.m. Wednesday. The residence is a two-story, one-family residence, and there were two adults and three children in the house at the time of the fire.

The fire severely damaged the first and second floors and the attic of the single-family home, said Whitman-Putnam.

She said there was extensive fire, heat, smoke and water damage.

Officials said firefighters were told upon arrival that everyone was out of the residence. Firefighters encountered a “heavy fire condition” with fire coming from two first-floor windows on the north side of the structure and a heavy smoke condition from the attic area and eaves, the news release said.

Firefighters entered the home and found Larimore, who was removed by firefighters and treated by the Ambulance Service of Fulton County.

The release said VanSlyke, who was outside the residence when firefighters arrived, was transported to the hospital.

Police said they didn’t know his condition this morning.

An effort to organize relief for the displaced victims of the fire is being headed by Mayor Dayton King and the Forresters Club. The American Red Cross also is helping the family.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at