HAMILTON — Mandy Carter-Zegarowski came home last night to the aftermath of a three-alarm fire that sparked as she was in California cheering on her son Michael Carter-Williams, a sophomore Syracuse University point guard who was playing in Saturday’s NCAA March Madness tournament.
While Carter-Williams knew something was wrong during the game by the look on his mother’s face in the crowd, the team was able to pull off a 66-60 victory against the University of California and advance to the Sweet 16.
Five people, including Carter-Williams’ stepfather, Zach Zegarowski, and two brothers, were inside the home at 261 Cutler Road watching the game on TV when the fire broke out in the chimney and spread. There were no injuries.
About two minutes into the game, smoke started pouring into the room, but they thought it was just smoke from a log in the fire, Zegarowski said last night.
“We had a fire going (in the fireplace), and it got behind the walls,” he said. “It went from bad to worse.”
Carter-Zegarowski and her daughter, who were watching the game from the HP Pavilion at San Jose, found out about the fire during halftime. Carter-Williams knew something was up because he could see his mother and sister upset on the sidelines, she said.
“He started asking what was wrong and was mouthing to us ‘what is wrong,’ so I went to the lounge area and kept waving that everything is OK, but he knew,” Carter-Zegarowski said.
An assistant for the team ended up telling him a “white lie,” and the news about the fire was told to him after the game.
Deputy Chief Kirby Brand said the fire was called in around 10:15 p.m. Saturday. Eight crews from surrounding towns helped at the scene, while two provided station coverage.