Press-Republican

Local News

October 24, 2012

Cause of Malone fire uncertain

MALONE — A faulty clothes dryer may be to blame for a fire that destroyed an apartment house at 15 Jane St. Monday afternoon.

Between six and nine people lived in the two-story building, but all were out safely by the time Malone Callfiremen arrived.

Everything the tenants owned was lost in the blaze, which was reported about 2:40 p.m.

Representatives from the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross met briefly with some of the impacted people Monday but were still working with them Tuesday afternoon. 

Among those homeless are Clarence Lord and his mother, Gladys. They were able to save three birds, two dogs and a cat, but one cat was not accounted for as of Tuesday morning.

The property is owned by Carmella Wanser of Malone, who had insurance on the home. No information was available on whether any of the tenants had insurance.

The structure was torn down to the ground late Monday by Village of Malone Department of Public Works crews.

“We were not able to enter the structure to confirm anything, but the preliminary results point to it being a dryer fire,” said Paul Langdon, Callfiremen first assistant chief. “Obviously, it’s still being investigated, so nothing is ruled out.”

He said the building did have smoke detectors and that they had activated to alert tenants of the fire, which started in the rear of the second floor.

“We weren’t able to go in past the front stairway because it was so hot,” Langdon said. “They (firefighters) backed out, we put water to it, and they went in a second time. But they could hear the fire above their heads.

“The black smoke was backing down the stairs, and it was too dangerous to go any farther,” he said.

The building was a wood-frame, post-and-beam structure, “and once it gets in the attic, it goes quick. And once it’s over your head and you can’t get in there to pull the ceiling down and put it out, you’re looking at a roof collapse.”

Langdon said tenants asked for some items to be saved but, considering the conditions, very little could be salvaged.

“It’s not worth risking a human life,” he said. “I understand their frustration, but we were not willing to risk losing a life. We do feel for them, and we do feel for their loss.”

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepublican.com

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