ALTONA — Fears that someone was inside a burning home here Tuesday proved unfounded, but the residence suffered extensive damage.
Heavy black smoke from the second story signaled the fire at 570 Devil’s Den Road, which was reported to Clinton County Fire Control at 1:40 p.m.
That level “was hot,” when Altona Volunteer Fire Department Chief Alan Mitchell arrived, and smoke was pouring out, he said.
“We have no idea how it started,” he said.
Soon after the initial scanner report, a call was transmitted saying it was thought a person was inside the burning structure.
Ambulances were summoned from Mooers EMS and Champlain EMS. Self-contained-breathing-apparatus-certified firefighters were also called out from various departments.
Tenants Wayne Graves Sr. and his wife, along with their two sons had been on their way to visit a relative when a friend called to tell them the home was on fire.
They had rushed home to find firefighters quenching flames.
In the 80-plus-degree afternoon, the Graveses stood at one side of their rented home, a somber group, talking with officials.
Mr. Graves said he does have some renters insurance and had been offered assistance from the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross.
They might have no choice but to accept, he said.
According to Clinton County Real Property Office, the property belongs to Christine Donahue.
Emergency Services Director Eric Day said on Tuesday night that fire investigators had not yet determined a cause for the fire.
The house, he said, “was heavily damaged, the part that wasn’t by fire was by smoke and water.”
Altona Fire Department was assisted by crews from Mooers, West Chazy and Chazy. Ellenburg Depot stood by at Altona’s station.
— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.