Franklin Avenue house destroyed by fire

SARANAC LAKE - An early morning blaze completely destroyed the now infamous residence at 55 Franklin Avenue in the village of Saranac Lake.

Emergency vehicles clogged the road ways from Nona Fina to the Prescott House in the early morning hours Oct. 17, and dreary-eyed spectators lined the streets to watch the blaze.

Jeff Carmichael is a sergeant for the Saranac Lake Village Police Department. He said in an Oct. 17 interview that the fire most likely started sometime after 5 a.m.

"We don't have an exact time yet," he said. "But we were here by 5:30."

By noon, the only parts of the structure still standing were the front right corner, half of the chimney and parts of the wall facing Lake Flower. The house has been in the news on a regular basis since early September, when a neighbor dispute led to the stabbing of a dog. Then, some residents of the house were arrested for a series of vehicle break-ins. Most recently, a resident was taken into custody for firing an air rifle within village limits.

Additionally, mountains of trash spilling outside of the building's dumpster led to action by the village board to have the garbage removed.

The house was being foreclosed on, and Sergeant Carmichael said no tenants occupied the building at the time of the blaze.

"To the best of our knowledge, all of the occupants had moved from the building," he said.

But according to one caller on WNBZ's Talk of the Town, Christy Lavair still had belongings in the building, all of which were lost in the blaze.

Carmichael said the fire is under full investigation.

Jim and Linda Pearson live down the street from 55 Franklin Ave. They said the commotion and the flames woke them up around 5:30 a.m.

"The flames were almost to the top of the tree line," Jim Pearson said. "Thank God there wasn't any wind and the fire didn't spread."

Steve MacNerland owns the building adjacent to the blaze. He said parts of the attic over the apartment closest to the fire were damaged.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries during the fire. A dozen members of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department were on scene, and were assisted by crews from the Bloomingdale, Paul Smiths-Gabriels and Lake Placid volunteer fire departments.

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