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Historic Lewis home destroyed in winter blaze

LEWIS Firefighters had to content with both extreme heat and cold at a fire which claimed a historic Lewis farm last week. 344 Fox Run Road went up in smoke Jan. 24. The building, which was insured, was a total loss. The building is known locally as The Old Cross Farm. Two residents were safely evacuated. The fire department received the call about 8:20 p.m. It was a quick response, but when we got there, the floor was already compromised, and it was difficult to fight from the outside, said Lewis Fire Department First Assistant Chief Carmen Cross. Water to fight the fire was drawn from a nearby brook. Cross said fighting the blaze was challenging because the water froze quickly, making it hard to reach the fire. The weather didn't cooperate very well - being cold and everything, the hose and nozzles freeze up, said Cross. Turnout gear also froze up quickly, helping contribute to firefighter fatigue. Responding fire departments were Lewis, Elizabethtown, Westport, Wadhams and Willsboro, while Keeseville stood by at the Lewis Fire Station. The (Essex County Department of Transportation) was called in to sand the roads, because everything iced up so quickly - it's a safety issue even walking around with all the ice, said Cross. Cross said the Lewis Fire Department went back three times on Friday to put out hot spots. Finally, a local contractor was called to remove some of the walls to enable firefighters to completely extinguish the blaze. Joe Norton, serving as the lead investigator of the fire, said the cause was still being determined. It's still under investigation - we're looking primarily at the basement, that's where the bulk of it was, said Norton. Norton explained the building, which was more than 100 years old, went up quickly. The balloon construction of the old farmhouse didnt have firebreaks, which enabled the fire to move rapidly. It took off quite quickly because it was a balloon-style construction - it can start in the basement and get up into the attic in no time, said Norton.

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