CROWN POINT — The fire that destroyed Frenchy’s Ice Cream Parlor over the weekend started in a trash receptacle in the eatery’s pizza kitchen, according to fire investigators.
It looked like the blaze began accidentally, Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said.
“The fire was in the garbage can, definitely,” he said Monday. “It started there.”
The Essex County Fire Investigation Unit had two investigators at the site.
Materials in the can could have been smoldering, Jaquish said.
Although they haven’t established that as the cause, olive-oil-soaked paper towels were in the trash can, Jaquish said, and when an organic solvent or oil comes in direct contact with natural cotton or paper fibers, the phenomenon known as spontaneous combustion can occur.
The snack bar closed at 7 p.m. Friday. The fire broke out three and a half hours later, at about 10:30 p.m., and rekindled just before 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
The blaze destroyed the building, which also housed two apartments.
CALL FROM TENANTS
Frenchy’s owner Ronald Ryan said Monday he wasn’t home when the fire started.
“We had left 45 minutes before the fire,” he told the Press-Republican. “We went to Ti. My tenants called me while we were there and said, ‘Frenchy’s is on fire.’
“I got there immediately. Smoke was coming from my exhaust vents.”
Ryan, his wife, Diane, and daughter, Heather, a junior at Crown Point Central School, lived in the downstairs apartment.
The upstairs unit was occupied by Karen Talbott and her two sons, who got out safely.
She is getting assistance from the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York.
Mr. Ryan said friends offered him use of a house on Sugar Hill Road in Crown Point, and they’re staying there now.
He bought Frenchy’s in April 2011 and expanded the menu to include pizza, wings, michigan hot dogs and burgers, in addition to the ice cream it previously served.
The restaurant had no indoor seating, but a covered pavilion alongside was used for outside summer dining.
Mr. Ryan said the initial fire was confined to the first floor.
“The first fire started in the pizza room in the center of the building. Three women had worked there that night, and they didn’t see anything unusual (before they left).”
He said Crown Point Fire Chief Randy Clarke told him he went in at 6 a.m. and walked through the building looking for hot spots and found none at that time.
Meanwhile, DeBro’s On the Way Cafe, located next door, opened for breakfast Saturday morning.
“At 7:20 (a.m.), someone pulled in to DeBro’s and said, ‘Someone better call 911; it’s on fire again,’” Mr. Ryan said.
PLANS TO REBUILD
He had insurance on the building and plans to have the burned structure torn down.
“I’m going to rebuild as soon as I can. The insurance adjuster was there Sunday, and he told me to get bids for demolition. Nothing can be salvaged.”
People in the area have been wonderful, Mr. Ryan said, with offers of aid for him and his family.
“I’ve gotten phone calls and checks from people who want to help me rebuild. People are doing fundraisers for me.
“Frenchy’s is coming back.”
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