LAKE CLEAR — An immense house fire Wednesday evening destroyed the home and studio owned by popular Adirondack singer/songwriter Roy Hurd.
The fire was reported at 5:42 p.m., according to Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department dispatch, and 33 firefighters responded.
The two-story historic house at 9 Station St. where Hurd and his wife, Amy Kohanski, lived, was engulfed when firefighters arrived.
"It was fully involved, with flames showing partially through the roof and out the windows," said Saranac Lake Fire Driver Aaron Donaldson.
Hurd had a studio in the house and lost instruments, recordings and artwork.
'WALL OF FLAME'
Michael Puccini lives on nearby Fish Hatchery Road and noticed smoke at about 5:20 p.m.
"Neighbors in the white house next door first noticed something was burning," he said. "At the time, I was at my computer trying to log on. There were a lot of lightning strikes going on out there.
"I started noticing black, thick smoke through the trees while it was raining pretty heavily."
Puccini went outside to see what was going on.
"Then I saw a wall of flame."
It is about a 15-minute drive from the Saranac Lake Fire Station to Lake Clear.
"The firemen had a pretty good setup," Puccini said. "State troopers were out there, too, keeping people back away. It was a hot fire."
The house was once a part of the Saranac Inn stagecoach station and later converted into a school that Puccini's grandmother attended from 1905 to 1909.
"It was a very beautiful house, with knotty pine paneling. For many years, in 1950s and 1960s, a very rich Frenchman put a lot of work into the house and property," Puccini said.
He spent a lot of time inside and on the property growing up.
"It's been there more 125 years. A lot of history burned up with that house."
Hurd could not immediately be reached this morning, and fire dispatchers did not readily know if the property was insured.
Brian Durkee of Bloomingdale was at his parents' home in Lake Clear and watched firefighters tackle the blaze.
"We thought lightning was a possibility, but it was a pretty severe fire. All you could see was flames through the trees. We went down to see how to help out. You could see the flames coming through the trees on the other side of the DEC horse pasture," Durkee said. "It was fully involved in about 20 minutes."
Firefighters worked to contain the fire and staunch hot spots until well after midnight.
Donaldson said the effort was largely an external fight, with one attempt at interior attack that proved futile.
Thick, black smoke was visible as far as Charlie's Inn at Lake Clear Junction.
"We had people that went by it come in and say dark smoke was just bellowing out," said Charlie's owner Jill Brockway. "We could hear all the rescue vehicles and sirens going by.
"It's not often you hear that many sirens in Lake Clear."
Fire crews set up a water supply draw from the Fish Hatchery more than 1,000 feet away from the structure fire.
Donaldson said they used an additional 1,300 feet of smaller hose and pumped 200,000 gallons of water and then 3,000 gallons of foam to suppress the blaze.
Mutual-aid response arrived from fire departments in Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Paul Smith's-Gabriels and Bloomingdale.
Saranac Lake fire equipment, and four trucks returned to the station at 2:21 a.m. after eight hours fighting the fire.
The property burned completely, Donaldson said.
"It was a complete loss. There's nothing really salvageable there."
One firefighter sustained a minor injury in the blaze, he said, but is OK.
A Franklin County Fire Cause and Origin team was on the site this morning.
The exact cause of the fire is under investigation.
E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: firstname.lastname@example.org