The owner burning tree limbs may have caused a fire that destroyed several apartment units in Champlain, NY Wednesday, according to Eric Day, director and fire coordinator, Clinton County Office of Emergency Services.
The investigation into the exact cause and origin of the fire at Sunset Apartments is underway. The fire shut down Route 9 in Champlain for much of Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Charles LaFountain was making dinner when a good samaritan announced trouble.
“I got a knock on the door and someone said 911, ‘Get out! Your place is on fire’ and I ran out the door and seen the flames coming out from the landlord’s apartment,” he said.
Lafountain has lived at the Sunset Apartments for 6 months. Others have lived there for decades.
Officials say more than half of the former Sunset Motel is unsalvageable after a fire tore through it.
Crews were called to 10305 Route 9 in Champlain at 3:45pm.
“The fire started in the south end of the building and moved to the north end. We did stop it about two thirds down. We did save about 6 apartments,” said Mike Cahoon, Clinton County Deputy Fire Coordinator. “But I don’t know as far as smoke damage.”
The statewide fire ban was lifted earlier this week. Cahoon says high winds made the job tougher for firefighters.
“It pushed the fire. We have a south wind and it was not working to our advantage. It was a disadvantage,” said Cahoon.
Nine water tankers were called because there was no hydrant nearby.
Several crews from New York, Vermont and Canada pitched in, part of an international commitment to lend a hand.
“We have a kind of contract to help each other when we need help. On a big fire like that, or if it’s down home, they’re coming home to help us. It’s very necessary to have those help together,” said Carmyn Girard, a firefighter from Saint-Bernad-De-Lacolle.
Nobody was injured.
As Lafountain looked on at his destroyed home, he has one hope.
“Hopefully I can save some of my stuff, is what I’m hoping,” said Lafountain.