By DAN HEATH
DANNEMORA — Fire destroyed the Town of Dannemora Highway Garage New Year's Day morning.
Lyon Mountain Assistant Fire Chief Ron Chase said the large, metal structure is a total loss. That includes almost all of the department's equipment.
The fire was reported at 9:30 a.m. The building was fully involved when firefighters arrived. Thick black smoke could be seen for miles.
When firefighters arrived the garage was already collapsing, so they decided on a strictly exterior attack.
"There were major explosions when we got on scene," Chase said. "It's over a million dollars damage, they (town officials) figure."
Dannemora Town Supervisor Americo Pivetta said this was quite a first day on the job.
"They lost everything — all their tools, three trucks and a loader," said Pivetta, who Jan. 1 took over from outgoing supervisor Barbara Douglas.
The garage also housed all of the department's records, Pivetta said. The town has insurance, but it can be a lengthy process as adjustors conduct their investigation.
No one was at the building at the time, Chase said, but some crews had returned from plowing about an hour before the fire began.
He said some highway department members who live nearby were able to pull an old plow truck and one-ton pickup with a plow from a secondary building that was saved. Lyon Mountain firefighters were assisted by the Dannemora, Ellenburg Depot, Ellenburg Center, Churubusco, Saranac, Mooers and Altona fire departments. A crew and equipment from the Cadyville Fire Department was on standby.
Lyon Mountain was back in service at about 2:30 p.m.
The fire remains under investigation. Chase said fire investigators from the Albany area were on the way.
Pivetta said he will declare a state of emergency, and plans to contact U.S. Representative William Owens, New York State Sen. Betty Little and State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey to see if they can help.
He said nearby towns and the Clinton County Highway Department have already arranged for the loan of some plows.
"I'd like to thank all of the departments for their help," Pivetta said.
The town is responsible for miles of roads that drifting snow makes extremely hazardous in winter, Pivetta said.
Route 374 is the main route between Lyon Mountain and Plattsburgh, 30 miles away. The side roads need to be kept clear in case of other emergencies.
Anyone who might be able to help is asked to call the town offices at 492-7541 or Pivetta at home at 735-4564.
He said the town is in the process of building a new highway garage. The materials have been purchased, and town officials will meet with engineers next week to see if the construction process can be expedited, although that will be difficult in winter.
E-mail Dan Heath at: firstname.lastname@example.org