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Massena fire at vacant house deemed “ very suspicious”

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MASSENA — A fire that engulfed a long-vacant house has been deemed “very suspicious” by the Massena Police Department.

The department responded to the blaze at 5:53 p.m. Friday at 120 E. Hatfield St. Volunteer firefighters heading to the fire from every direction could see heavy, thick smoke billowing from the scene, according to Chief Thomas C. Miller.

“It was really noticeable. It was really heavy thick black smoke,” Mr. Miller said.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 20 minutes. The house, which is owned by Wayne R. Masuk of Bombay, is a total loss and is not insured, Mr. Miller said. The Louisville Volunteer Fire Department was on standby.

St. Lawrence County fire investigators were on the scene and turned the investigation over to the Massena Police Department. Mr. Miller said he could not provide the cause of the fire because of the ongoing investigation. There was no electricity or heat in the house that could cause an accidental blaze, Mr. Miller said.

The fire is “very suspicious” and the investigation was continuing as of 10 p.m. Friday, according to Police Chief Timmy J. Currier. He declined to provide further details.

Village officials had considered demolishing the house earlier this year. The village Board of Trustees voted 3-1 in July after an emergency demolition hearing, with Mayor James F. Hidy dissenting, to allow it to remain standing to let the owner to make the necessary repairs and bring it up to code.

Instead, then-building owner Scott R. Bishop was given 90 days to bring it up to code. Had he not made the repairs in that time, the village board could have ordered the building demolished.

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