Fire giveth and fire taketh away

In perhaps the most ironic tragedy in recent local history, an artist couple whose works depend on fire, lost their studios, the tools of their craft, much of their work and many other possessions to the very same volatile element.

Recently retired art educators for Keuka College and Penn Yan Central Schools, Dexter and Faith Benedict were awakened at 5 a.m Nov. 1 by the barking of their dog, Leo. Faith rose from bed and looked out the window to see their studio, barely 25 yards from their house, awash in flames stretching 50 feet high. The building housed both their studios — Fire Works Foundry & Fire Works Pottery, for Dexter’s metal sculptures and Faith’s ceramics, for over 40 years on Baker Road in Milo. It also contained a lifetime of collected works from other artists and treasured examples of their students’ work.

Ten fire companies responded to the 911 call. Penn Yan FD received mutual aid at the scene from Bellona, Benton, Branchport-Keuka Park, Dundee, Himrod, Tyrone, and Wayne. West Lake Road FD set up to fill tankers at the nearest hydrant in Horizon Business Park in Penn Yan, 5 1/2 miles away. Potter FD provided standby at Penn Yan’s firehouse, and Watkins Glen FD did the same for Dundee.

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