Fire and ice
LAKE PLACID – Firefighters from across the Tri-Lakes region responded to a major fire early this morning that looks to have destroyed a building that housed Placid Boatworks, Cake Placid and Rick’s Taxi.
The fire at 263 Station St. was reported to the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department at 12:39 a.m. today by an employee of Rick’s Taxi.
Joe Moore, who owns and runs the Placid Boatworks canoe-building shop, also owns the building.
“In the early morning hours this morning, a fire broke out in our building,” he wrote in a post on his business’ Facebook page. “The damage appears to be total, although firefighters are still on the scene and I haven’t been able to assess. The good news is no one was inside in any of the businesses in the building.”
Firefighters were still on the scene this morning. A large portion of the structure’s roof was caved in, windows had been knocked out, and thick sheets of ice had formed on the outside of the building. Icicles measuring more than 6 inches had also formed on nearby power lines. Lake Placid’s new aerial fire truck was still pumping water on the hot spots this morning.
Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish, who had ducked into a nearby county vehicle to warm up, told the Enterprise that two investigators from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control were on their way to the scene, but he wasn’t optimistic that they would be able to uncover any clues as to what caused the fire.
“They’re still dumping copious amounts of water on the building,” Jaquish said. “They won’t be able to get into the building for a while. There’s ice building up, and the building could collapse.”
Jaquish said no one was inside the building when the fire started, and no injuries had been reported as of about 8 o’clock this morning.
“We’ll investigate the cause if and when we get in there,” he added.
Lake Placid Fire Driver Greg Hayes said his department sent four trucks and 22 members to the scene, and the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service stood by. The Paul Smiths-Gabriels, Bloomingdale, Jay, Upper Jay, Keene, Keene Valley, Wilmington and Saranac Lake volunteer fire departments also provided manpower. Firefighters from Tupper Lake and Keeseville were called to the scene, but were turned back en route.
Temperatures were in the double digits below zero when firefighters first arrived. Hayes said that luckily, no firefighters fell victim to the bitter cold.
“Early on, we were fine, and then we had enough manpower come in from the other departments that what we would do is, as we relieved a crew, we’d shuttle them back to the firehouse to warm up and replace them with a fresh crew,” he said. “And we did that all night long.”
Jennifer Gates, owner of Cake Placid, posted a message on her business’s Facebook page at about 6 a.m., thanking firefighters and notifying customers that she won’t be able to fill orders.
“I am devastated and beyond words right now,” Gates wrote.
Gates asked customers to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She said she will do “everything possible to find an alternate bakery to fill your order.
“I will rebuild, it will take time, but cakeplacid will be back,” Gates wrote. “Thank you for your continued support.”
Kimberly Watson was at the scene of the fire at about 3:30 a.m. In a Facebook message sent to the Enterprise, she wrote that she couldn’t see visible flames in the front of the building, but could “tell that is it going to be a total loss.
“It seems as if it’s only the outside edges of the building were left, the inside was gone,” Watson wrote. “Very heavy clouds of smoke covered the area around the fire and through the surrounding neighborhood.”
Mike Hurley, of Hurley Brothers fuel supply across the street, said his business provided the fire department some portable heaters and welcomed in firefighters who needed to use a restroom.
“I gotta figure it’s going to be major damage,” Hurley said. “They said it’s underneath and in through the roofs. If not a complete loss, there’s major damage.”
Senior Staff Writer Chris Knight contributed to this report.