MORRISONVILLE — A fire that damaged a Morrisonville home Wednesday night has been attributed to buildup that led to the collapse of the chimney pipe.
Dexter Criss had lit the furnace at his home at 122 Broadwell Road about 7 or 8 p.m. and had later fallen asleep in a chair in his living room, said Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kevin Randall.
“He woke up to what he thought was running water ... but it was actually the fire crackling. He got up and went to the kitchen and looked out the window, and he could see the whole front of the house was glowing.”
Criss told the Press-Republican he ran upstairs and alerted his wife, Barbara, and their children, Danielle and Dalton, and everyone got out safely.
The Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the two-story wood-frame house at 10:22 p.m. after Clinton County Dispatch received reports of the fire from the Crisses and their neighbors.
‘SKY LIT UP’
The entire house appeared to be fully involved from a distance as Randall rushed there.
“The whole sky was lit up orange,” he said. “You could see it for a good mile away, and I could see the glow in the sky.
“It was actually a really good save.”
As soon as Randall arrived, Mr. Criss spoke with him, saying no one was still inside, the chief said.
“That was a good heads-up right off the bat.”
‘FLAMES UP WALL’
The fire was caused by creosote, a tar-like substance that forms because of incomplete combustion as a result of burning wood that’s not completely dry, had been building up in the Crisses’ chimney, Randall said.
The chimney pipe got so hot that it lost its structural integrity, Randall said, and the weight of the pipes above it crushed the flue pipe.
“It only had to drop six or eight inches to come right out of the flue,” the chief said. “The flames went right up into the wall and into the attic.”
Randall said he had not encountered that chimney situation before in his 28 years of firefighting.
Fire damaged the outside of the home as well as the attic area and an upstairs bedroom and bathroom, Randall said. There is smoke and water damage throughout the house.
The exterior vinyl siding on either side of the chimney had burned through, charring the plywood underneath and opening holes into the interior of the home in some places.
The Crisses contacted the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross and stayed Wednesday night at a hotel.
They have insurance, Randall said, adding, “the home is salvageable.”
“Despite everything, there were some comical moments,” Criss told the Press-Republican.
His children thought he was coming upstairs to their rooms to scold them, Criss said.
“I was beating on the doors and they thought, ‘What have we done?’’
Fire companies providing mutual aid at the fire site were from Cadyville, South Plattsburgh, District 3 and Keeseville.
South Plattsburgh’s air truck was also there to fill the firefighters’ compressed-air tanks.
Two Clinton County fire coordinators and one county fire investigator responded, as well.
Peru Volunteer Fire Department stood by Morrisonville’s station.
“I’d like to thank everybody involved in our mutual aid,” Randall said. “It was very much appreciated, and I know the homeowner said he very much appreciated everybody’s help working together.”
The Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Department was back in service at 2:20 a.m.
— Contributing Photographer Gabe Dickens contributed to this report.