Press-Republican

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November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving fire destroys Tupper home

TUPPER LAKE — Fire that ignited in the basement of Dan and Tina Baldwin’s home climbed into the kitchen and second floor as the couple celebrated Thanksgiving with family elsewhere.

It appeared the couple lost everything, due to fire, smoke and water damage at their residence at 8 Fourth St., Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Carl Steffen said.

Mr. Baldwin, standing outside his home on Friday, said he discovered the fire when he arrived home at about 7 p.m. Thursday. 

Steffen said flames were shooting out of the kitchen window near the attached carport when his crews arrived; heavy smoke billowed around the house as well.

Firefighters at first tried to control the conflagration with an interior attack, he said.

“We knocked the fire back and started up the stairs (to the second floor), but the stairs were burning, and we had to back out,” he said. 

They managed to put out the fire beneath the stairway, he said.

“(And) we ended up going up into the attic of the carport” to battle the flames there.

The Baldwins had used that space for storage, the chief said.

‘BELOW ZERO’

Forty-seven firefighters, including 30 from the Tupper Lake fire company and others from Paul Smiths/Gabriels and Saranac Lake, took about three hours to fully quench the flames.

Piercefield Volunteer Fire Department brought its Cascade System to keep airpacks filled, the chief said, the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad responded, and a crew from Long Lake stood by at Tupper’s station.

Wind wasn’t an issue, Steffen said, “but the cold was.

“It was below zero.”

Tupper Lake’s Company 5, a group of retired firefighters, and the Tupper Lake Fire Department Auxiliary, kept the crews going with hot coffee, soda and other refreshments.

There were no injuries, Steffen said.

And no nearby structures were threatened, he said.

An investigation into the cause of the fire revealed it had begun at a spot in the basement, Steffen said.

“The only thing present in the area of origin was electrical wires,” he said.

The Baldwin declined assistance from the American Red Cross; Mr. Baldwin said the property is insured, and he and his wife were staying with relatives.

— Freelance photographer Jack LaDuke contributed to this report.

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