Press-Republican

January 29, 2013

Lake Placid reaches to help businesses rebuild

Fundraiser planned for shops lost in fire

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — LAKE PLACID — Business colleagues are stepping in to help Station Street fire victims move quickly into recovery mode.

The fire last Friday destroyed office and workspace of four local small-business operations: Placid Boatworks, Rick’s Taxi, Cake Placid and a satellite office of Griffith Fuel.

All four companies are forging ahead with plans to rebuild.

But the fire left little to recover from ashes covered in ice.

The fire was reported about 12:37 a.m. Friday, and first-responders found flames tearing through the back window of the Boatworks shop.

They worked in minus-20-degree temperatures to knock back the blaze.

HELP POURS IN

Cake Placid owner Jennifer Gates had built her baking and decorating business from scratch three years ago.

Overwhelmed by support of the past few days, Gates said Monday that she has even had bakery competitors in town offer temporary kitchen space so she can keep working.

“Right now, I’m just processing everything. I have a wedding as soon as this Sunday. I’m trying to contact my brides now. I’m going to do everything I can to get everybody’s orders filled,” she told the Press-Republican.

“I literally don’t have a single spoon to work with.”

Gates does have a couple of cake pans, though.

Incredibly, firefighters managed to find and save a few key items as flames tore through the workspace beside the bakery.

“I wasn’t there when the fire started,” Gates said. “But they went in and got some things out. The firefighters saved me a small stack of cake pans.

“It was funny, when the fire first started, they ran in and pulled out a folder full of recipes —  all hand-written, all saved, thank God — and my laptop, my printer and some files and cake orders I have upcoming.

“The wedding-cake files were in a different spot, so they weren’t able to save those. And they saved the cash register.”

LOSING HOME, TOO

Gates grew up in Wilmington and graduated from Lake Placid schools. 

She came home and started Cake Placid out of a love for confection after attending culinary school in central New York.

Her cupcakes and tiered layer cakes have fast become beloved at local farmers markets and at catered events.

She had not expected to reclaim a thing, given the intensity of the fire.

“Chad Blinn gave them to me. Basically, I just hugged him and said thank you,” Gates said.

The loss by fire is compounded by the fact that Gates was just displaced from the home she rented for herself and two small daughters.

“We just found out the week before that the house we rent was sold. So now we’re looking for a home as well,” the baker said. 

“I’m optimistic. I think that part will be an easy fix. And it’s just stuff. I still have me, and I can still make cupcakes.

“I am very thankful for everything everybody’s doing. I’m completely overwhelmed. I never expected any of this. I’ve never been the kind of person to ask for help, and I feel funny.”

FRIENDS STEP UP

It is Elizabeth Amell and Stacey Byno, two of Gates’s friends and customers, who organized what has become a community-wide drive to help businesses displaced by the Station Street blaze. 

“Lake Placid Pub and Brewery has offered to donate the space to do the fundraiser,” Amell said. “Chris and Catherine Ericson called to ask what they could do. And they’re also donating $2 from every pint sold to the rebuilding of Cake Placid.

“Insurance helps. But it doesn’t cover everything,” Amell, a radio marketing agent with Y106.3 FM, acknowledged.

The response has snowballed.

Local businesses are coming forward to donate items for a silent auction, and proceeds will be divided to support all four businesses.

Catherine Ericson, co-owner of the pub, launched a Facebook event on Saturday to help spread the word.

Within about 24 hours, some 40-plus donations were promised and on the way.

“I think you’re gonna need a few more tables to hold this stuff...,” Jamie Costa, Byno’s friend, posted on the event wall.

The page, “Fundraiser for businesses and a toast to the firefighters and all those who helped,” also invites area fire personnel, and town and village workers who helped combat the fire.

“Everybody involved did just a super job. Hopefully, we get the opportunity to tell them face to face thank you for what they did for our friends,” Amell said.

NEW SITES

She confirmed that Placid Boatworks owner Joe Moore found a temporary worksite amid kindred spirits.

“Spencer Boatworks in Saranac Lake has offered him space.”

And Gates is looking at another location in Lake Placid for her bakery.

At the Lake Placid Fire Station, Assistant Chief Tracy LaHart said fire investigators are still searching for the cause of the fire. 

“I think they’re waiting to see if the ice melts then come back and do more of an investigation,” LaHart said Monday.

Email Kim Smith:

kdedam@pressrepublican.com

HOW TO HELP The Station Street fire gratitude and recovery event is slated for 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery on Mirror Lake Drive. People who want to offer items for silent auction can drop them off at the Pub or call Stacey Byno at 366-4754. People can also send donations via check made out directly to any of the businesses affected by the fire. Mail the designated checks to: Stacey Byno, 140 Moss Rock Road, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.