ALEXANDRIA BAY Investigators may never know what sparked a stubborn fire that gutted a Church Street home and caused firefighters to battle it in the bitter cold for more than 8½ hours Monday.
Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Director Joseph D. Plummer said the 66 Church St. buildings two occupants property owner S. Davod Imdad and his teenage son, Zakariya were able to make it out alive.
Both were treated at River Hospital for smoke inhalation and released, fire officials said.
The blaze was discovered shortly after 5 a.m.; the scene was cleared at 1:41 p.m.
Mr. Plummer said the extent of the damage may make it impossible to determine the cause of the blaze.
Mr. Imdad is a local businessman who owns A-Bay International, a clothing store on James Street.
Clayton firefighter Alan J. Marceau, a private plowing contractor who was operating a snowplow nearby, noticed the burning home and called 911.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flicker of a flame in the window, Mr. Plummer said.
He attempted to help the occupants evacuate the building. The younger Imdad got out through the front door. Then the teen and the firefighter went back into the house to find the father, but the flames were too much and they retreated, Mr. Plummer said.
The father had to use a back window to escape.
Mrs. Imdad and a daughter were out of town at the time of the incident.
Ten fire departments from Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties were at the scene for hours trying to extinguish the blaze at the two-story house with an attic.
Firefighters used a pair of ladder trucks to extinguish the fire which turned out to be a challenge because the flames were trapped between the houses old roof and the new one added on top of it. Hitting below zero degrees, the frigid weather and unplowed snow from this weekends snowstorm also hampered the efforts.
With these old houses, they go right up, Mr. Plummer said.
Joshua Reome, a firefighter with the Clayton Fire Department, also was taken to River Hospital, attributed to fatigue from battling the blaze.
Coming to work at 5:45 a.m., Lanie McCauley said she saw lots of dark gray smoke coming from the house. Two hours later, she said, 20-foot-tall flames were coming out of the top of the house.
It was unbelievable, she said. Things can change in a minute.
Firefighters at the scene were from Alexandria Bay, Cape Vincent, Clayton, Hammond, Fishers Landing, Plessis, LaFargeville, Theresa, Redwood and Brier Hill.