PORT KENT — George Mudd and Angela Keech lost everything in the fire that destroyed their apartment building except an album of their children’s photos that firefighters saved.
Looking at the charred structure on Friday afternoon, Mudd said he felt “kind of broke” inside.
He, Angela, 3-year-old George and 10-month-old James are among 11 tenants whose apartments were destroyed in Thursday night’s conflagration.
An Essex County fire investigator and three New York State fire investigators were working together Friday to find the cause.
“It’s such a big building, and there’s so much collapsed in the back that it’s going to be hard to determine the cause,” Keeseville Fire Chief David Perky explained.
‘SOLID BLOCK OF ICE’
Clinton County Fire Control dispatched the Keeseville Volunteer Fire Department to 14 North St. at 9:27 p.m.
They were soon joined by fire crews from AuSable Forks, Cadyville, Plattsburgh District 3, Willsboro, Lewis, Jay and South Plattsburgh, with the City of Plattsburgh on standby.
Heavy smoke was visible from the eaves of the wood-frame building at 9:40 p.m. when the first truck arrived at the two-story building, Perky said.
More than 75 firefighters worked in frigid temperatures to try to douse the blaze at the seven-unit building, which used to be a hotel, Perky said.
“This was probably one of the coldest (fires) we’ve dealt with,” he said, referring to his 16 years with the department. “Pretty much everything is a solid block of ice.”
Trees near the building were coated in ice Friday from the water that blew onto them.
The ground surrounding the structure was covered in several layers of ice, also a result of the water used to douse the flames.
“We did an interior attack at the back of the building but we decided to pull everybody out, Perky said. “And then probably a minute after we decided to pull everybody out, the second story had a pretty good-size explosion.”