Fire chief: Quick response saved commercial building

Firefighters battled a blaze just outside the village of Saranac Lake early Friday morning.

The fire occurred at 278 State Route 86 - Tissot Construction - in Saranac Lake, a few miles past the Adirondack Medical Center. Fire and rescue officials received the call just after 3 a.m.

Brendan Keough is chief of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department. He said seven trucks and 27 members responded to the blaze.

Additionally, Lake Placid fire sent three trucks and 18 members to the scene, while Bloomingdale's fire department sent two trucks and Paul Smiths-Gabriels provided three trucks.

Keough said crews used between 13,000 and 15,000 gallons of water to fight the fire.

Rick Knapton lives across the street from the old Club 86, now Tissot Construction; he said that his dog woke him up shortly before 3 a.m.

"I figured does he want to go out at this time?" he said. "But I smelled smoke, which isn't too unusual because someone could have been using a woodstove."

Then Knapton looked out his front window and saw smoke coming from the building, so he called the fire department.

"It's amazing to watch those guys in action," he said. "The speed which they got here and the organization, it's amazing. We're very fortunate to have them in our area."

Chief Keough said the damage was confined to the center of the building.

"The fire department did a phenomenal job stopping the fire and part of the reason we were able to do that was the fact that we had two trucks there within minutes," he said. "That made all the difference in the world between putting the fire out and losing the building."

Last week, the Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees continued with a plan to cut one fire driver from the department in order to slash its budget.

Keough said that decision will affect the department's level of service, and used Friday's incident as an example of why the department needs five paid drivers.

"In the past year, we've had four saves on structure fires and the reason is the response time," he said.

The Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department provided stand-by assistance at the Saranac Lake station.

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