Fire destroys couple’s home in Lake Clear (video)

Firefighters battle a fire as it destroys the home owned by the Blanchard-Karnes family on McMaster Road in Lake Clear. Nobody was in the home when the fire began Monday afternoon. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

LAKE CLEAR — Fire destroyed the Blanchard-Karnes family home at 365 McMaster Road this afternoon while the owners were on a quick trip to town.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article had the wrong street number.)

At about 4:30 Harold Karnes (who often goes by his middle name, Joe) and his wife Gay Blanchard-Karnes went to town to buy a screen door for the house.

“I honestly don’t know what happened. We were gone 20 minutes,” Karnes said. “I got a text message and came back to this.”

Firefighters battle a fire as it destroys the home owned by the Blanchard-Karnes family on McMaster Road in Lake Clear. Nobody was in the home when the fire began Monday afternoon. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

The house was fully enveloped in smoke and flames. There was no chance of their getting anything out of it. Fire trucks from Saranac Lake and Bloomingdale lined the road and were pouring water into the building, while the family and their neighbors, in shock, watched the house burn. Lake Placid and Paul Smiths-Gabriels firefighters were there to help wield hoses and fill the pumper truck at the pond down the road.

Gay Blanchard-Karnes said she grew up right there. Her nearest neighbors are close relatives: her father and sister live in adjacent lots.

“We lost our first house to fire,” she said. “Twenty years ago my father’s house burned. This is surreal to me.”

There was no insurance on the home, making the loss total. Among the many things lost in the fire was the salt and pepper shaker collection that Blanchard-Karnes had inherited from her mother, totaling 1,400 shakers.

“Everything I own was in there,” she said.

Her daughter came up to give her a hug. Neighbors and family kept arriving, some at a run. “We’re here,” she would call out, and their faces would drop the look of fear.

“Nobody was inside,” Karnes said.

The couple built the house themselves, starting with a trailer 20 years ago. Karnes collects and sells scrap metal.

“I check everything three, four, five times before I walk out the door,” Blanchard-Karnes said. She looked around at the fire trucks, the cars parked on the road edge, and the people come to stand by.

“I remember when this was a dirt road,” she said. “This is my home.”

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