Fire destroys Mooers home

MOOERS The night of Dec. 17 may have started out ordinarily enough, but for Mooers resident Erin Garrand, that all changed when she smelled smoke in her Bush Road home. Summoned by her 911 call shortly after 11 p.m., the Mooers Fire Department arrived on scene to find smoke coming from the two-story home. Shortly thereafter, the home went up in flames. Joining the Mooers Fire Department, additional firefighters from Champlain, Ellenburg Depot, Ellenburg Center, Altona, West Chazy, Hemmingford and Rescue Hose No. 5 fire departments all responded, with Champlain EMS standing by. Although the home was a total loss, firefighters were able to save the attached garage, outbuildings, and some items from the garage, including a car. Clinton County fire investigators have since determined the fire started in the basement, due to a faulty furnace. Mooers Fire Chief Raymond Phair explained it's always more difficult to fight fires that start in the basement as "there is only one way in and one way out it's very dangerous." The recent fire that destroyed the landmark Anchorage Restaurant in Rouses Point also started in the basement, contributing to that restaurant's demise. The old-style balloon framing, in which the wooden members of the wall studs extend from ground level to the rafters of the second level, then allowed the fire to quickly and easily travel from floor to floor throughout the structure. Difficulties were further compounded by the wintry weather. "I've never pulled my hair out so much in my life," Mr. Phair said of the nearly 10 hours spent fighting the blaze. He went on to explain"if you don't keep water flowing through the hoses, they'll freeze up." Units had to frequently return to the two Mooers fire stations, nearly eight miles away, so that hoses and nozzles could be thawed out. Firefighters also used the awaiting EMS vehicle and squad truck to warm up from the near zero temperatures before rotating back out to fight the fire. In addition, the fire proved to be persistent. Firefighters had to return the following day to douse a nearby smoldering woodshed. According to Chief Phair, firefighters were "hoping at the beginning that the home could be saved, but the fire took off at the end." "There's one person with no house for Christmas," he added.

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