ROUSES POINT — Marc Chapman and his family escaped safely as a fire ravaged the elevator shaft in the former Saxony hotel and ate into the attic early Monday.
“There’s nothing left on the fourth floor,” Rouses Point Volunteer Fire Department First Assistant Chief Walter Laramie said.
That’s where the Chapmans made their home and where Mr. Chapman had a recording studio for many years.
He had been in the midst of renovating part of the first floor into apartments.
NO INTERNAL ATTACK
Flames shot into the dark sky from the elevator shaft as firefighters arrived at the four-story structure at the intersection of Lake and Champlain streets at about 2:45 a.m.
“Before we could get water on it, the fire moved into the attic,” Laramie said.
It wasn’t safe to launch an internal attack from the fourth floor, he said.
“We kept (crews) out of harm’s way — I just didn’t trust the building.
“(We were) putting (so) much water on it, in the dark, it was just plain too tricky.”
So firefighters concentrated on the elevator shaft, forced to wait until the flames ate through the roof.
“(It was) very smoky, very dark,” said Kimberly Lapan, treasurer of the Rouses Point Fire Department Auxiliary, moving a box of bottled water in the back of an SUV at about 7:45 a.m.
The vehicle was parked outside the Stewart’s Shop across from the smoldering building.
She and her mother, Sally Smith, had arrived with refreshments shortly after the initial attack.
Help poured in from fire departments around the region including Chazy, Champlain, Mooers, Beekmantown and Plattsburgh District 3; Alburgh and Isle Va Motte, Vt.; and, from Quebec, Hemmingford, LaColle, St. Paul and Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
“A lot of help,” Laramie said.
At about 8:45 a.m., firefighters atop a 95-foot-or-so ladder extended from a District 3 aerial truck deluged the elevator shaft with a steady cascade of water.