Fire damages Rainbow Lake home

A home in Rainbow Lake was seriously damaged by what started as a chimney fire Saturday night.

A half-dozen fire departments responded after the fire was reported at 92 Wardner Road, the Mowka family residence, at 10:19 p.m.

Paul Smiths-Gabriels Fire Chief Roger Smith said the fire was called in by the homeowner. The family was able to get out safely by the time firefighters arrived, he said.

“When I got on scene, there was smoke coming out of the eaves of the second story, and within two minutes there was visible flames in the building and outside the chaseway of the chimney,” Smith said. “It spread into the first-floor dining room, kitchen and the second floor bedroom and attic way.”

It was a difficult blaze to battle, given the cold temperatures Saturday night and the location of the home, Smith said.

“It was 19 below zero, and there was fresh snow on the driveway, which was very narrow,” Smith said. “We had trucks freezing up and manpower freezing up.”

Smith said the house is about a 50 percent loss.

“It’s not livable,” he said.

Smith said the chimney was the probable cause of the fire, though he said it’s still under investigation.

Firefighters from Saranac Lake, Bloomingdale, Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, St. Regis Falls and Duane responded, along with the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad.

“It was an awesome job by everybody,” Smith said. “We saved a lot more of the structure than anybody thought could be saved.”

Saranac Lake firefighters were back at the fire station by 2:16 a.m. Sunday. Paul Smiths-Gabriels firefighters didn’t return to their station until 4:40 a.m.