Fire rips through Gabriels home

The back windows of a trailer in Gabriels were broken and give a view into the charred and gutted kitchen, where the fire started. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

GABRIELS — Fire gutted a home on Franklin County Route 60 Thursday afternoon.

The converted trailer, across the road from the Brighton town park, was completely charred on the inside, with the kitchen and living space bearing the most damage. All the windows were out, the furniture had burned down to the springs, and the ceiling had melted into the carpet and mixed with water to create a sludge on the floor.

The fire started in the kitchen, but firefighters aren’t exactly sure how, according to Dan Whitson, chief of the Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department.

“We’ve pinpointed it down to electrical or an appliance, but we can’t say which,” he said.

It wasn’t the gas because that had been shut off previously, in anticipation of the owner’s plan to move out.

One of the homeowners, Kirk McLean, was there when the fire started. His wife’s grandfather, Alan James Spencer, confirmed Friday that it was Kirk and Holley whose house burned. He said family friend Kitiera Sexton has started a GoFundMe campaign for the family — who have a five-month-old baby — titled “Help Holly and Kirk rebuild.”

Kirk was packing when he heard a smoke alarm go off, he told Whitson. He saw smoke in the kitchen and called 911. The time was 4:43 p.m.

Whitson said he arrived on scene within two minutes of the call, and in that short time, “The house was fully engulfed with smoke coming out the roof and the eaves.”

When Whitson first went inside, “The fire was in the kitchen hard,” so much so that he backed out and waited for his department’s fire truck, which he said arrived within five minutes of the 911 call.

While some firefighters set up a water supply line, others used the 1,000 gallons of water in a fire engine to knock down the flames and contain them so they didn’t get any worse. They also doused flames that had spread to the grass from the kitchen window.

Bloomingdale’s volunteer fire department was also dispatched to the scene, and Saranac Lake’s was called in as well. Tupper Lake’s stood by at the Paul Smiths-Gabriels firehouse, and the Lake Placid department stood by at Saranac Lake’s station.

Fighting the fire at the scene lasted until around 8 p.m., and with cleanup the PSGVFD wasn’t back in regular service until 9:30 a.m., Whitson said.

The damage to the home is extensive, including rafters, Whitson said.

“They’re going to probably consider that a total loss,” he said.

To donate to the McLean family, visit gofundme.com/help-holly-and-kirk-rebuild.


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