WARRENSBURG - Oscar's Smoke House, one of the most famous enterprises in the North Country, suffered a devastating fire Friday evening.
The business, an Adirondack landmark for generations of residents and visitors alike, is considered a total loss.
The heat of the blaze was so intense it melted stainless steel doors and processing equipment and split the heavy steel and brick walls of the smokers on site.
The fire occurred at about 5:45 p.m. while the business was open and employees were busy helping customers, owner Jerry Quintal said Monday.
Within minutes, the fire raged out of control, he said, and the employees were evacuated from the store in uptown Warrensburg on Raymond Lane.
"I was in store's retail area waiting on customers when I smelled smoke, and sent my son-in-law Gabe Egloff to check it out," Quintal said, adding that Egloff discovered that a portion of the building next to an exterior woodpile was on fire. "Our alarms went off, three of our employees ran to the back of the building with fire extinguishers, the fire company arrived, and police told us we have to evacuate, while we were scrambling to get our business records out."
As of Monday, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
Fire Chief Justin Hull said that the cause of the fire was the subject of a continuing investigation.
"We're not sure if it was an errant ember, or what," he said.
The blaze was difficult to fight because it went up into the eaves of the roof and quickly spread to adjoining areas of the sprawling building complex, he said.
A lack of water supply to town hydrants also hampered the firefighting effort, Hull said. Warrensburg firefighters established a 5-inch hose line to bring water down Third Ave. from Hudson to Main St. to the fire scene, he said.