On the season premiere of her daytime talk and cooking show Monday, Rachael Ray described at length the Aug. 9 fire that severely damaged her two-story home in upstate Lake Luzerne.
Her husband, John Cusimano, "was going to go play golf for the first time with other human beings," Ray, 52, said at the opening of the premiere. "So I was going to make a big pasta dinner for John because that makes him the happiest."
After he came home grumpy, she said, because of a bad golf game, "I thought, Well, while he's upstairs changing I'll start a fire" in the fireplace, "he'll see the pasta water going, the sauce is bubbling, this will make a nice evening. So John comes downstairs a bit later and a man comes running through the backyard, he jumped off an ATV, and he is in our backyard screaming … 'Your roof is on fire!' … Hey, you guys! Hey, you guys!' So we run into the backyard and we look up and, yeah, the roof's on fire."
Ray recalled, "I ran upstairs to get medicine, my notebooks, my mother's high school ring. You know, things that when your house is burning down you don't want to leave. But when I ran to the top of the stairs I could hear the fire in the wall … So I immediately turned to run out and there was a … firefighter standing literally next to me: 'Get out! Get out!' I'm, like, 'I'm trying! I'm trying!' … And we ran down the stairs. John was coming up the stairs as we were going down the stairs, and I said, 'You can't go in there!' "
Though the couple has the fireplace of the less-than-15-year-old house cleaned twice a year, Ray said, the cause of the fire was creosote that had caked the inside of the chimney, "and a fire ember fell on the roof."
The couple and their puppy Bella escaped the fire unharmed, Ray said, but they lost "so many books that were special to us, and letters and notes. Of course my life's work — notebooks that date back decades. … John lost all of his music charts, going back decades."
Ray and Cusimano are staying at their guesthouse, doing her show from there. Denis Leary, on whose Leary Firefighters Foundation board Ray sits, was her first remote-video guest.
Their home is beyond repair. "As of today," Ray said, "my house is being bulldozed."
But, added Cusimano, "We'll rebuild the house. It'll be back."