AuSABLE FORKS — A fire at the old J&J Paper Mill damaged three large sections of abandoned AuSable Forks landmark Sunday morning.
AuSable Forks Fire Department Chief Mike Lincoln said the department was called out to the old brick building at about 6:30 a.m.
“When we arrived, the roof had collapsed and that section of the building was fully involved,” he said. “It’s not the biggest fire we’ve been to there but it was significant. That section of the structure may be in danger of collapse.”
Seven additional fire departments were called in to assist. Trucks from Jay, Upper Jay, Wilmington, Keeseville, Peru, South Plattsburgh and Willsboro were involved in the firefighting effort. Lincoln said his department’s tanker task force was called to the scene to draw water from the Ausable River, about half a mile away. He estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 gallons of water were used in fighting the fire.
Lincoln said the old paper mill, off French Village Road in the Town of Black Brook, hasn’t been occupied for about 30 or 40 years and has been the scene of multiple fires in the past. He said he believes the mill changed ownership in the past few years but had yet to check with the Town of Black Brook code enforcement officer to see who owns the vacant building. He also said fire investigators will be at the site to determine if the fire was an arson.
J&J Rogers was a significant source of employment in the Town of Black Brook from 1829 to 1971, according the Special Collections at SUNY Plattsburgh. Originally an iron mill, it later converted to pulp and paper manufacturing. It was sold in 1955 and continued to operate until paper product demands declined. With the additional demands of the State of New York for a waste-water treatment plant to prevent pollution of the Ausable River, the plant would become a financial burden and was closed.