A generator sparked a fire that burned down a two-car garage here.

"The homeowner was out doing chores and noticed flames coming from the garage," said Don Uhler, Saranac Volunteer Fire Department chief.

The 28-by-28-foot two-car garage was a total loss, he said.

The garage was about 35 feet from the home at 77 Hugh Heron Road, but the fire was so hot that siding on one side of the house melted, Uhler said.

Sunday's big blow made it a challenge for firefighters to reach the blaze on Monday morning; Saranac Fire Department was slowed because of downed power lines and other obstructions on the road, so Dannemora Volunteer Fire Department got there first.

A tree had fallen, blocking access to the driveway, but a neighbor was able to clear the way for the fire trucks, Uhler said.

The homeowner, whose name wasn't available, had been using the generator because the electricity had been knocked out by Tropical Storm Irene.

A wiring issue seemed to cause the fire, the chief said.

MANY WITHOUT POWER

Electric outages were widespread throughout the region — NYSEG reported on its website that, as of 6 p.m. Monday, 4,509 customers in Essex County were still without power, almost half of those served there. Of 27,000-plus customers in Clinton County, 10,145 had no electric service.

Franklin County had just 75 NYSEG customers without power.

Little damage has been reported in Franklin County except for two road closures due to high water: Franklin Falls Road in the Town of Franklin and Merrill Road in the Town of Bellmont.

Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said his dispatchers handled 60 to 80 calls related to downed tree limbs that knocked out telephone and cable-television service and debris strewn across county roads.

Restoring power, said a NYSEG release, would take some time.

"While some customers will have power restored in the next few days, it is likely that many customers will be without power at least into next week," it said.

PHONE, INTERNET

It was unknown exactly how many lost telephone or Internet service, though Primelink in Plattsburgh said the number totaled very few.

Stephanie Salanger, communication manager for Time Warner Cable for Central New York, which includes northern New York, said technicians were on standby, working mandatory overtime Sunday and were dispatched after 5 p.m., when the storm began to subside.

There are over 800 Time Warner technicians working to restore service in central and northern New York.

"We've got all hands on deck."

Heidi Vanderbrouk, public relations and communication manager at Charter of New England and New York, said damage was still being assessed.

"Crews (of technicians) were dispatched immediately after the storm," Vanderbrouk said.

USE WITH CAUTION

Also, the power company reminds people that emergency generators should not be operated indoors, due to danger of carbon-monoxide issues that can be deadly.

To report fallen power lines or other hazardous situations, call NYSEG at (800) 572-1131; the natural-gas emergency number is (800) 572-1121.

To report power interruptions, call (800) 572-1131 and leave a message on the automated system. Online, go to nyseg.com.

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