MALONE — A two-story home at 15 Jane St., across from Malone Middle School, caught fire Monday afternoon, leaving tenants in at least three apartments without a place to live.
Howls of grief and crying came from within a crowd of people standing in front yards a few buildings east of the burning structure.
There were no injuries, but the building is a total loss, said Malone Fire Chief Brian Gokey.
Classes were over for the day at the Middle School, and most of the fleet of buses had already left by the time the fire was reported to Franklin County Fire Control at about 2:55 p.m.
County Fire Police directed traffic around the sites where Jane Street intersects with Webster Street to the west and Academy Street to the east.
A few dozen children, carrying hand-made anti-smoking signs and other positive messages, were walking along Main Street about the same time as the fire, but they were seemingly unaware of what was going on a few blocks away.
When Gokey’s department arrived, there was heavy fire and smoke visible from the second floor in the rear of the building, Gokey said.
The blaze was originally thought to be caused by an appliance, but the cause had yet to be determined Monday night, he said.
Firefighters started fighting the blaze from the inside of the building but once the roof started to sag and danger increased, they moved back outside where they used water from two hydrants and a tower ladder to quench the fire, Gokey said.
The interior flames were sending thick, black smoke billowing out second-story windows.
Stubborn flames on an upstairs porch would quickly reignite in the stiff afternoon breeze as soon as they were put out.
The smoke carried north and east, some wafting onto Route 11 (Main Street).