Flames had just eaten through the cream-colored siding in a small burst of vibrant orange; the fire was by no means completely quenched, Laramie said.
“We’ll probably still be here at suppertime.”
Until about 11:40 a.m., roads were shut down from all directions, including on Route 9B at the Mason Road intersection in Coopersville, Route 11 from Mason Road/Route 276 and at points in the Village of Rouses Point.
The fire might have sparked in the elevator shaft, he said, since that’s where the first flames had seemed to erupt.
But Laramie said investigation was needed to pinpoint the cause.
“It’s unknown but not suspicious,” he said.
As Laramie studied the building, sheets of water blew toward Stewart’s, and a mist filtered across Champlain Street, wetting the chief and other firefighters.
A few onlookers watched from the side of the shop; inside, business was minimal due to the road closures.
At the height of the attack, Laramie had four pumpers sucking up water from nearby Lake Champlain to fuel the snarl of hoses in the street; three continued that work as the morning moved on.
“I tried not to use the village water supply (more than necessary),” he said.
He didn’t know just how much water had been dumped on the burning building, but village workers had to pump out three or four basements to the south of the Saxony that caught runoff from the fire.
The home just south of the Saxony was evacuated, as Chazy Fire Chief Mike Cahoon, working that side, considered the possibility that the burning building could collapse and fall in that direction.
“We were lucky (the fire) started in the top,” Laramie said. “If it had started (lower), there wouldn’t be anything left.”