SACKETS HARBOR — Next-door neighbor Jamie Hubbard saw white smoke coming from the roof of The Anchor bar and grill before realizing the building was engulfed in flames Monday night.
She and her husband Tim were sleeping, but she got up to go to the bathroom before looking out the window, only to see “white, steamy smoke” and then flames.
“It was just so surreal,” she said.
The fast-moving fire destroyed the popular bar and grill at 210 W. Main St., causing a gaping hole in the quaint village’s main street.
Several local fire companies converged on the scene after the blaze was reported about 11:30 p.m. Fire trucks lined the entire Main Street.
While firefighters were still on the scene early Tuesday morning, Willis McIntosh, Jefferson County’s deputy fire coordinator, said it was too early to determine a cause, but it appeared the fire began near the front corner, near the business’s entrance.
Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department First Assistant Chief Erin J. Derouin said investigators are looking at the possibility that a discarded cigarette butt may have ignited mulch near the Anchor’s entrance, with the fire then spreading to the structure.
The Anchor had already closed for the night. No injuries were reported.
Its owners, Thomas and Pearl Scozzafava, were home in their apartment just down the street when they were told about the fire.
The Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department is located just around the corner, but by the time they arrived, much of the building was engulfed.
Firefighters fought the mammoth blaze from the front and the back of the building as flames filled the bar’s interior and shot up from the roof.
A firefighter doused the flames from above in a ladder truck, while others on the ground used hoses. They were able to save the next-door building, where the Hubbards live and a dog grooming business operates, from any damage.
“I’m just glad there’s a lot of space between the two buildings,” Mr. Hubbard said while watching dozens of firefighters contain the fire at The Anchor.
At one time, firefighters also climbed to the roof of that building to make sure flames did not spread. Guests of the Harbor House Inn were evacuated during the fire.
Several other business owners in the village were among dozens of village residents who watched firefighters’ efforts from across the street.
Business operators hugged the owners and offered their condolences about what happened. Mrs. Hubbard, co-owner of the Sandwich Bar across the street, said she could not imagine what the owners were going through.
Therese Johnson, who owns Harbor Pawz, said the loss of The Anchor was devastating for the village. Opened all year, it offered local residents a place to go get pizza and wings, play darts, shoot pool and have a couple of drinks.
“It’s terrible,” she said.
Pearl Scozzafava declined to comment, saying she was too upset to talk about it. She and her husband also own the Sackets Brew Pub that sits adjacent to The Anchor.
Mr. Scozzafava was unavailable for comment Tuesday, although he said on his Facebook page that he planned to rebuild.
On Tuesday morning, the building was still smoldering and firefighters were called to extinguish hot spots. A village Department of Public Works crew tore down what was left of the facade.
The building’s brick walls remained standing. Otherwise, the bar is just a mangled mess of charred wood.
Peggy Anderson stopped by Tuesday morning to see what happened. She was relieved no one was hurt.
“I just ate there last week for the first time,” she said. “The spaghetti was good. I guess I won’t eat there again.”
Mr. Scozzafava opened The Anchor in 2011. The building was once the home of the Sackets Cantina and 1812 Steak and Seafood Co. before that.