Fire contained to basement of Saranac Lake home

SARANAC LAKE — An electrical malfunction is being blamed for starting a fire in an Old Lake Colby Road home basement Friday.

Saranac Lake firefighters responded to 390 Old Lake Colby Road at 12:33 p.m. after homeowner Matt Bartholomew reported a fire in his unfinished basement.

“They had flames down there,” said Saranac Lake fire Chief Brendan Keough. “The basement was blacked out with smoke completely. Our guys went in and knocked the fire down with some water, then it was a matter of ventilating all the smoke out of the house and investigating the fire.

“But it didn’t extend to anything structurally in the house. They were able to contain it.”

Keough said the fire started where a fish finder had been charging on a folding table.

“I can’t say if it was the fish finder, the battery or the charging unit, but the cause was an electrical malfunction,” the chief said.

Bartholomew said he had plugged in the fish finder, walked away and discovered the fire about an hour later. He said he called 911, and the firefighters arrived quickly.

“They were here in two or three minutes,” he said. “They got here as fast as they could.”

If Bartholomew wasn’t home, Keough said it might have been a different story.

“I was real lucky,” Bartholomew said.

He said the damage to the basement was “not bad at all,” and was so minimal that he may not have to file a claim with his insurance company.

“Everything’s pretty much back to normal now,” Bartholomew said. “It’s almost like it didn’t happen.”

The fire department sent three trucks and 12 members to the scene. They were back in service at 3 p.m. The Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department stood by at the Saranac Lake fire station during the call.

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