Press-Republican

Police, Fire, Courts

March 29, 2014

Early morning fires destroy two barns

FORT COVINGTON — Two barns in Franklin County were destroyed by fire early Friday.

Two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation at a blaze in Fort Covington; three farm animals were killed in a Tupper Lake fire.

The first, called in by owner Winston Armstrong at 12:07 a.m., brought firefighters to Dundee Center Road in Fort Covington.

The Fort Covington Volunteer Fire Department arrived soon afterwards to find the structure engulfed in flames.

“We had to keep water on the nearby houses so they wouldn’t catch on fire,” said Fire Chief Tony Leroux.

According to the chief, the main focus was the safety of the firefighters and containing the fire.

And the main challenge, Leroux said, was making sure the fire didn’t spread to nearby buildings. 

A hydrant located not far from the fire supplied water, with departments from Westville, Bombay, Hogansburg/Akwesasne and Bangor providing mutual aid.

There were no animals in the barn but machinery stored there was destroyed, the chief said. 

The two firefighters were treated then released from Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone.

Leroux said his department was back in service at around 4 a.m.

Armstrong has insurance, the chief said.

EWE, LAMBS KILLED

The other barn, a small structure at 156 Underwood Road in Tupper Lake, was a complete loss. One ewe and two lambs perished in the blaze, according to fire officials.

The barn was owned by the Doug and Sarah Bencze family, who manage the Big Boulder Deer Farm and a logging company from their property in Tupper Lake. The family has hosted ski events on the historic and scenic land for many years, including Empire State Winter Games Nordic events and Bill Koch races.

Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Carl Steffan said the fire was accidental.

“The origin of it, from the location and from the owner’s statements, resulted from a heat lamp that he was using to keep the babies warm,” he said.

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