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Fire damages evaporator at Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm

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CANTON — Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County officials said they believe an equipment malfunction is to blame for a small fire Tuesday evening in the sugar house of the agency’s 2043B Route 68 learning farm. The oil-fired evaporator caught fire, but it was contained to the base of the equipment, said Executive Director Patrick T. Ames.

“The important thing is that no one was hurt and there was no building damage,” he said.

He said the agency is working with its insurance company, and at this point the extent of the damage is unclear. “We’re not sure if the evaporator is salvageable,” Mr. Ames said.

The evaporator was commercial grade, and to replace it could cost upward of $25,000, he said. He said the timing, right at the start of the maple syrup season, is unfortunate, but not an insurmountable hurdle. “We’ve already had people in the community reach out to us and ask if there’s anything they can do to help,” he said.

Mr. Ames said the learning farm will either sell its sap to local producers or partner with other producers and pay them to evaporate the sap for it.

Mr. Ames said the maple demonstration tours for schoolchildren scheduled to start Tuesday will go ahead as planned.

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