Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, January 18, 1999

Virginia Cullen dies in house fire

By Andrea Vargo

It wasn't something he expected to see shortly after 5 a.m. on a cold, bitter Sunday morning on his way home from work.

Waverly firefighter Dave Fournier saw the flames at the home of Virginia Cullen, 69, and made the call for the fire department to roll, Jan. 10 in Waverly.

Cullen lost her life in the fire that destroyed her home.

It was into that home that she graciously allowed this reporter, a year or so ago, to share some of her family's history.

As we sat,surrounded by lovely furniture and a lifetime collection of memorabila, this delightful woman told of Waverly's history and how her family prospered in the community.

Her positive feelings for her church, family, and friends were evident from the enthusiasm in her voice.

Her face lit up as she proudly displayed the trophies her father, George Berkner, won as a world class trap shooter.

Cullen lived alone in her home after the death of her mother.

Cullen died in one of the most difficult fire situations he can remember, Fournier said.

It took an hour to bring the fire under control.

"We all looked like icicles when we were through," said Fournier. The cold was bitter, and the wind made the situation even worse.

"However your hands were formed in the gloves when you were through, was the shape they were frozen in," he said.

It was noon before the firefighters returned to the fire station, and by the time the hoses were thawed and everything was cleaned, it was 3 p.m., he said.

The Waverly Fire Department was assisted by the Montrose Fire Department in its efforts to extinguish the blaze.

One of the Montrose firefighters was injured when a floor gave way beneath him. He was not hospitalized.

The home appeared to be a total loss, said Fournier, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the State Fire Marshall's Office.


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