BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — PORT HENRY — Firefighters found thick black smoke and flames pouring from every window when they arrived at a 163-year-old historic mansion on Broad Street Monday afternoon.
The fire, reported at about 4:15 p.m., destroyed the former Neil Anderson property at Broad and Stone streets in Port Henry.
Dozens of Port Henry residents ran toward the towering column of smoke coming from the Anderson house, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was going on.
Fire police shut down Broad Street, shouting at motorists to turn around as heavy smoke billowed across the road from the burning home. Fire engines soon filled the street, and drivers were directed on a detour that took them over back streets to get around the blaze.
Anderson, an engineer, had lived in the wood-frame, two-and-a-half-story home for more than 30 years but recently sold the property as his health declined.
No one was living there when the fire broke out.
Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said firefighters were having difficulty fighting the Anderson blaze.
“They’re having quite a time. It’s an old wood-frame house; the wood is dry. The house is a total loss.”
The current owner is listed as Michael Mackin, who lives out-of-state. The house is assessed for $99,000.
Mackin also owns the old Witherbee Mansion across Stone Street from the Anderson place, and has had contractors renovating both homes, although not recently.
Port Henry, Moriah, Mineville-Witherbee, Crown Point and Ticonderoga fire companies all turned out, along with Moriah Ambulance Squad and State Police.
The Essex County Air One truck from Westport was called to refill firefighters’ air packs.
No one was reported injured fighting the conflagration.
Investigators from the Essex County Fire Investigation Unit were at the fire attempting to determine the cause. National Grid came to turn off power to the structure.
“We have a team of investigators here,” Jaquish said. “As soon as it’s declared out, we’ll go in to try to find what started it.”
The house at 3197 Broad St. had six bedrooms and was built in 1850, according to its assessment data online.
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