Stubborn chimney fire

SARANAC LAKE – A Bloomingdale Avenue home was damaged Monday afternoon in what Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department officials said was a stubborn and intense chimney fire.

Firefighters were called to 135 Bloomingdale Ave., a three-story former cure cottage owned by William R. Edelberg, at 1:48 p.m. after a passerby reported the fire. Two trucks and 12 members responded.

Fire Chief Brendan Keough said the second and third floors of the home were filled with smoke, and heavy smoke and flames could be seen coming out of the chimney when the first firefighters arrived on scene.

“The chimney fire was from top to bottom,” Keough said. “It was very hot. It had extended through the chimney into some walls on the third floor. We went in, and we were trying to prevent it from extending through the structure.”

A crew of firefighters opened up walls on the building’s second and third floors to expose the chimney. Water was used to extinguish the fire on the second and third floors, the roof and in the basement, where a wood stove was located.

“It was such a hot fire, we ultimately ended up resorting to putting water right down the chimney from the top,” Keough said. “You usually try to avoid that, but this was a very, very stubborn chimney fire.”

The building sustained fire damage on the second and third floors, in the areas where the walls were removed, and there was water damage on those floors as well. Keough said the chimney was also compromised.

Creosote buildup in the chimney was blamed for triggering the blaze.

This isn’t the first time Saranac Lake firefighters have been called to chimney fires at this house. The most recent one was last year, Keough said.

Edelberg was home when firefighters arrived Monday but wasn’t aware of the fire, Keough said. He was able to get out of the building safely. The chief said the homeowner was lucky someone spotted the blaze.

“It would have been a major structure fire if it had gone unnoticed – no question,” Keough said.

No injuries to any firefighters were reported. Keough said the department was a little low on manpower due to it being spring break, but firefighters were able to handle the blaze without calling in any additional departments.

The fire department contacted town of St. Armand code enforcement, as the house is just outside the village. Firefighters were back at the fire station by 6:23 p.m.

The house at 135 Bloomingdale Ave. is identified as the Mrs. Lawrence Cottage on the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki website. Although it doesn’t identify the year it was built, the site says the cottage was operated by Mrs. Mildred Lawrence, who ran a number of cure cottages in the village, among others.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or