Press-Republican

March 15, 2013

Tupper Lake couple loses longtime home to fire

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — TUPPER LAKE — An electrical fire in Gene Flagg's garage spread to his parents' house early Friday.

Glenn and Theresa Flagg were home at the time.

“They were evacuated safely,” Tupper Lake Fire Chief Mark Picerno said. “When we arrived, the garage was fully involved and the back of the house was on fire.”

The hot inferno shot bright flames against the night sky and lit up Demars Boulevard for several blocks.

“It was in my garage and then the wind blew the flames right over to my parent’s house,” Gene said in an interview on Friday.

He said his dad and mom were doing okay.

BITTER COLD

No firefighters were injured battling the blaze, even though water from the fire hoses froze quickly in the 3-degree air temperatures, leaving the area slick with ice.

“Fire departments from Piercefield and Long Lake were called to the scene for mutual aid, and Saranac Lake stood by in our station,” Picerno said.

“We used six apparatus with 45 personnel. Nobody got hurt, though it was icy.”

The fire departments were able to battle the blaze using the village hydrant system.

The emergency was paged out at 11:30 p.m., and at 7:30 a.m., Tupper Lake firefighters were still getting the trucks and equipment back in service.

“It was about six hours of fighting fire, hitting hot spots to make sure it didn’t rekindle,” Picerno said.

But the crews worked well together.

“It was an excellent turnout. We can’t thank our mutual-aid companies enough and the Tupper Lake Ladies Auxiliary who came and brought us coffee and sandwiches.”

The Save A Lot grocery store on Demars Boulevard also opened at 2:30 a.m. to help provide firefighters with provisions.

Tupper Lake Police helped secure the site as crews fought back the blaze.

FLAGG FAMILY REGROUPS

The Flaggs raised five children in their family home. All but one of them live in Tupper Lake. 

“They’re looking to rebuild, hopefully on the same foundation, which is surprising," Gene said. "Dad’s 74 years old."

His folks are staying with his brother Ray and his wife, Abbie, for the time being, and the children had all gathered to be with them on Friday.

Abby said the American Red Cross had been over to offer assistance.

And Kinney Drugs helped get the Flaggs medication they need and lost in the fire.

The family had not sought donations from the community.

“They’re modest,” Abbie said of her in-laws.

“They still in shock. But everyone has been so helpful.”

'CLEARLY ELECTRICAL'

The elder Mr. Flagg worked for many years at the former Veteran's Administration hospital that later became Sunmount. He stayed on when the facility was switched over to the State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Gene said.

The family has spent a lifetime on Cedar Street.

“One of my officers estimated the house was an 85 percent loss,” Tupper Lake Police Chief Eric Proulx said.

The Franklin County Cause and Origin Team was not needed for further investigation.

“We did have a fire investigator from our department on scene. It was clearly electrical in origin,” Picerno said.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:

kdedam@pressrepublican.com