Press-Republican

Police, Fire, Courts

January 26, 2013

Firefighters combat Boatworks fire in bitter cold

LAKE PLACID — Dozens of area firefighters fought a massive fire on Station Street here through frigid, dark morning hours.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said a call came in about 12:37 a.m. reporting a blaze at Placid Boatworks at 263 Station St.

The fire consumed space used by four local business operations. Besides Placid Boatworks, Cake Placid, Griffith Oil and Rick’s Taxi were located in the structure, which sits across from the Lake Placid train depot.

MASSIVE RESPONSE

Jaquish said nine fire companies from around the North Country responded in the bitter cold to help Lake Placid firefighters. They came in from Saranac Lake, Wilmington, Jay, Upper Jay, Keene, Keene Valley, Paul Smiths-Gabriels, Bloomingdale and Elizabethtown, according to Assistant Fire Chief Tracy LaHart.

“About nine or 10 from each fire department,” LaHart estimated of the response, or close to 100 firefighters.

The large turnout helped keep a steady rotation. LaHart said they worked to keep firefighters safe by setting up teams that took turns dousing the flames.

Overnight air temperatures in Lake Placid dropped to 20 degrees below zero, and the challenges of fighting fire in dangerously cold air are enormous.

“We had one group out fighting fire while another warmed up in the fire station,” LaHart explained.

“At 20 below, everything freezes up. You also have to keep the equipment running. We had two salamanders under each truck to keep the pumps from freezing. There were four trucks here. And then there is ice all over the place.”

As water hits the ground in deep cold air, it freezes nearly on impact.

STARTED IN BOATWORKS

The fire started on the left side in the back of the building, LaHart said.

When the first firefighters arrived, flames were already leaping out the window.

They believe fire broke out in the Placid Boatworks section of the building.

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