TURIN — A fire raged overnight leading to the final demise of a landmark building that had been allowed to fall into disrepair over the years.
A caller reported the building was on fire at about 11:15 p.m., according to a report from Lewis County Emergency and Fire Management Services.
The large two-story building at 6308 East Main St., at the corner of Route 26, was fully engulfed by the time Constableville Fire and Ambulance Chief Doug Salmon arrived at the scene, according to the report.
Firefighters from six departments around the southern Lewis County area, including Constableville, Lyons Falls, Port Leyden, Lowville, Martinsburg and Boonville, contained the fire in the early morning hours Thursday, but by 10 a.m., Mayor Joshua Leviker reported that he had been informed the building was still smoldering and had some hot spots.
Both roads were closed and the power was out in the village intermittently to balance the crumbling building’s proximity to power lines with the need of residents to run sump pumps to protect their properties during the ongoing spring melt, Mr. Leviker said.
According to the report, an investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
“I drove by it on the way home from work at 10 o’clock at the earliest and there was nothing, but at 11:05, this went off and she was fully engulfed,” Mr. Leviker said. “I can’t speculate, but something of that magnitude does not get fully involved in an hour — something that’s abandoned, no power, no nothing. We’ve had rain, snow, everything’s wet. There’s just no way for that thing to get that big. I’m not an expert by any means, but ...”
A conserve water order was issued for the village at 2 a.m. “due to low water levels,” according to a notice issued by the county sheriff’s office.
“We have X amount of water in the water tower and we had a great response time ... but with all the mutual aid — there were five, six departments and it does not take long when you have that many resources pumping out the water,” Mr. Leviker said. “They knocked the fire down by using hydrants and we had to switch over to hauled water so we had water for the residents but everything worked out. Everyone’s done a good job and it worked out actually perfect.”
He estimated that about 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of water per minute were being pumped to fight the fire and he was monitoring the tank levels with the help of the county Emergency Management Director Robert MacKenzie.
“It will be a week for the tower to get back to the top but that’s not a big issue because we make about 60,000 gallons a day, but we only use about 25,000 gallons a day,” according to the mayor.
Mr. Leviker said he also had a conversation with South Lewis Central School Superintendent Douglas Premo on Thursday morning in which the decision was made to close the high school for the day to limit the use of water while the tank refills.
The village signed the necessary documents to declare a joint emergency with the county and they will be moving as quickly as possible to haul the remains of the building away.
The property, owned by Rose M. McKenna-Davis, has been the center of controversy as the county sought to fine Ms. McKenna-Davis and require her to clean up the property in 2019. Ms. McKenna-Davis insisted at the time that she was still in the process of renovating the building.
Ms. McKenna-Davis could not be reached for comment Thursday.