LAKE LUZERNE — Investigators on Monday were still trying to piece together what caused the fire that damaged the Lake Luzerne home of celebrity TV chef Rachael Ray on Sunday night.

A cause of the fire, which broke out around 7:30 p.m. at 22 Chuckwagon Drive, may take more than a week to determine, said William McGovern, the chief investigator for the state’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

“It’s a routine process,” he said. “This is an investigation like we would do with any type of structure fire. It doesn’t matter who they are.”

State investigators were called in due to the extensive damage to the property, said Brian LaFlure, director of Warren County’s Office of Emergency Services.

McGovern said the fire doesn’t appear suspicious.

Still, he expects investigators to finish collecting evidence at the scene sometime today. From there, investigators will work to piece things together.

The fire, he said, appears to have started on the second floor of the residence, and caused extensive damage to the roof.

“The roof assembly is gone off over a large portion of the residential portion of the structure,” McGovern said.

Ray along with her husband, John Cusimano, and dog Bella, were home when the fire broke out, but were able to escape without injuries, LaFlure said.

No injuries were reported among first responders either, he said.

On Monday, Ray took to Twitter to thank emergency crews for “saving what they could of our home.”

“Thank you to our local first responders for being kind and gracious and saving what they could of our home. Grateful that my mom, my husband, my dog ... we’re all okay. These are the days we all have to be grateful for what we have, not what we’ve lost,” she tweeted.

The Luzerne-Hadley Fire Department responded to the scene shortly after 7:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Ted Backus, the department’s chief.

Flames were already exiting through the roof of the residence when crews arrived, he said.

There are no fire hydrants near the residence, which sits about a half-mile from Route 9N. That made battling the flames difficult, Backus said.

Crews from 14 fire departments were called in, and several tanker trucks were needed to extinguish the flames. It took around two hours for emergency crews to get the fire under control, Backus said.

“Water was an issue to start with; there’s no hydrants there,” he said.

On Monday, the area was quiet. Warren County sheriff’s officers were spotted entering the scene, but emergency crews had the area blocked off.

The residence sits on top of a private dirt road.

Ray owns nearly 200 acres in the Adirondacks near three chain lakes: Lake Vanare, Lake Forest and Lake Allure. She graduated from Lake George Central School in 1986, maintaining a seasonal residence in Lake Luzerne.

Recently, Ray has spent time in her Lake Luzerne home taping episodes with her husband for her New York City-based TV show as the coronavirus pandemic shut down production.

LaFlure said the incident has sparked international interest. His office has fielded calls from outlets like Inside Edition and CNN, to name a few.

But Ray is a resident and her privacy should be respected at this time, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of people try to get to the scene,” he said. “Please try and respect her privacy.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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