Woman dies in Port Henry fire

One person died late Saturday night when fire began in a Main Street, Port Henry commercial building. Port Henry fighters called for Ticonderoga's aerial platform truck to fight flames in the three story structure. The victim was found in a second floor apartment.PRESS-REPUBLICAN PHOTO/LOHR McKINSTRY 

PORT HENRY – A woman died Saturday night when flames erupted in her apartment in downtown Port Henry.

Mary A. Gutreuter, 60, was found dead with her dog in her second-floor apartment at 4326 Main St., known as the Aubuchon Block, shortly after 11 p.m.

Port Henry Fire Chief James Hughes said most of the damage is in one apartment on the building’s second-floor, but the fire burned through the ceiling into a rear third floor apartment.

Gutreuter lived in Apartment 3 on the second floor.

COMMERCIAL, RENTAL PROPERTY

The commercial building is owned by Duncan Hermanson Corporation of Bristol, Vt., with William Sayre as the chief executive officer, and assessed at $226,800 in 2020, according to the Essex County Treasurer’s Office website.

The first floor houses Celotti’s Wines and Spirits and Carpenter’s Tax Service. Both sustained smoke and water damage and are closed until repairs to the building can be made. Damage was confined to the interior of the structure.

Cause of the fire is under investigation by the Essex County Office of Emergency Services Fire Investigation Unit, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and New York State Police.

'A GOOD PERSON'

Sunday morning, three State Police cars and two Office of Fire Prevention and Control vehicles were outside the structure, along with a County Office of Emergency Services vehicle.

Moriah Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Cathy Sprague said Gutreuter was always helping others.

“I liked her very much,” she said. “She’d come in with donations for the chamber. She was awfully good to the people in this community. She was a good person.”

Gutreuter lived alone and had once worked as chemicals section secretary at Union Camp Corporation’s Research and Development Lab, according to her Facebook page. She graduated from Moriah Central School and has a grown son, Jean Miguel.

'WE WILL COME TOGETHER'

Essex County Coroner Kellie Valentine pronounced Gutreuter deceased. An autopsy to determine cause of death is expected to be performed at Albany Medical Center the beginning of this week.

The occupants of the other six apartments in the building got out safely and are staying with friends or relatives. They're being helped by the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Assisting Port Henry were firefighters from Moriah, Mineville-Witherbee, Westport, Crown Point and Ticonderoga.

Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said his deepest condolences go out to Gutreuter’s family.

“Also, a huge thanks to our first responders' heroic efforts to make sure there were no other fatalities and saving the building and surrounding structures,” he said on social media. “We as a community will come together as we always have in past tragedies.”

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