CROWN POINT — A late-night fire that swept through the popular Frenchy’s Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street Friday night also left six people homeless.
The fire was reported by a neighbor at about 10:30 p.m., triggering a massive response from local fire companies.
The two-story wood-frame building had two apartments, and all occupants evacuated safely after the fire began.
The apartment downstairs was occupied by the owner of Frenchy’s, Ronald Ryan, who lived there with his wife and 17-year-old daughter. The upstairs apartment was rented to Karen Talbott, who lived there with her 13- and 20-year-old sons.
Frenchy’s Ice Cream snack bar was open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the winter, serving takeout pizza, michigan hot dogs and burgers. The eatery, which had no inside seating, had closed at 7 p.m. Friday, about 3 1/2 hours before the fire was reported.
The building, located at 2747 Main St. in Crown Point, was destroyed, Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said Saturday morning.
“It’s pretty much a total loss,” he said. “The building is still standing, but the roof is gone.”
He said firefighters were at the structure until 4 a.m., then were called back to the ice cream shop at 7:30 a.m. Saturday for a rekindle that further damaged the building.
Crown Point Volunteer Fire Department member Scott Ingleston said he believes Ryan has insurance on the building.
“It was just heavy, dark smoke,” Ingleston said, describing what the building looked like the first time the Fire Department responded. “I saw no flames, really, until we opened it up.”
The fire was mainly confined to the first level, Ingleston said, where he thinks it started.
The 15 degree weather did affect firefighters’ efforts, the chief said.
“Equipment was kind of freezing up. We were having a little issues with that.”
The hydrant system isn’t the best in that area either, Ingleston said.
‘FIRE IN WALL’
The chief said he believes the fire reignited because of the “balloon construction” that was common at the time the structure was built, which Ingleston said was about 100 years ago.
“The walls are kind of (constructed as) all one wall,” Ingleston said. “The fire gets in the wall and it just travels up the wall.”
He said it was likely smoldering for a while until the Fire Department was dispatched to Frenchy’s again.
“Fire was coming out of one of the upstairs windows,” Ingleston said. “We had to dismantle pretty much the whole upstairs.”
The Crown Point Volunteer Fire Department was back in service from the rekindle about 1 p.m.
Crown Point firefighters got mutual aid from Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Moriah, Mineville-Witherbee, Chilson and Westport departments. The Essex County Air One unit was called from Westport to refill firefighters’ air bottles.
The Essex County Fire Investigation Unit was at the building conducting a probe of the fire’s cause.
Crown Point Rescue Squad and Crown Point-based State Police were also at the fire. Putnam Fire Department was on standby at Ticonderoga’s fire station.
Jaquish said fire investigators will be working throughout today to try to determine how the fire started.
The Red Cross provided assistance to Talbott, Ingleston said. The Ryan family declined Red Cross assistance.
A National Grid line crew was called to the fire site and cut power to the building.
Main Street in Crown Point reopened to traffic at 11:40 a.m. Saturday. It had been closed after the fire broke out.
By early Saturday afternoon, 34 people had commented to a post on Frenchy’s Facebook page that confirmed the fire at the business.
“This is so sad and for all you do for the community and the kids that plays sports hoping you rebuild because this town will miss that ice cream stand if not. Thoughts and prayers are with Ryans with a business they turned into a year around deal instead of seasonal,” wrote Chad Trepanier.
Brandy-Chad Beeman wrote: “Sorry for the loss of a great business owned and operated by caring and generous people! We hope to see you up and running very soon! Thoughts are with you!”
The chief shared in the sentiments.
“I’m impressed with the job that my guys did,” Ingleston said. “(But) I’m heartbroken that it happened.”