Thick winter ice kept firefighters from quickly using the water flowing in a nearby river. Firefighters had to use a chainsaw to cut through the 18-inch thick ice before they could install portable pumps and transport the water back to the fire.
Cox said the plan went smoothly overall, despite the weather challenges. The stations were back in service by 5:16 a.m.
“It probably would have worked just as good in the summertime, but with the weather and not being able to get into the river, we had to ask for more tankers,” Cox said.
Along with pumping water from the river, the responding departments used a tanker shuttle strategy to move water from St. Regis Falls to Santa Clara. Tankers traveled seven miles to the town to resupply with water, then back to the hamlet to use that water on the fire.
Cox said only one family had been in the building at the time. A father, his son, and their pet dog were going to stay temporarily at the father’s sister’s home, Cox said. It was unknown if the family had renters insurance.
A press release from the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross said assistance was provided to two people after the fire. Replacement glasses and medication were provided along with clothing, seasonal garments and food.