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Firefighters douse flames at new Saranac Lake hotel

Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brendan Keough talks by radio with fellow firefighters battling a blaze inside the room next door at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge Tuesday afternoon. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — A fire sent flames up the side of the newly constructed Saranac Waterfront Lodge and filled one wing of the hotel with smoke Tuesday afternoon, but the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department quickly extinguished it.

The flames came from a second-floor bedroom’s heating and air conditioning unit with an exterior vent. Hotel Managing Director Anura Dewapura said the small fire started in the exterior wall of an unoccupied room around 1:25 p.m. He said the fire department was on the scene within minutes and that no injuries have been reported.

“The cause of the fire is currently under investigation,” Dewapura wrote.

Firefighters first attacked the blaze from inside the room after feeding a hose through a window into the second-floor hallway. They followed by going at it from the outside with another hose.

People eating, working and relaxing in the hotel were evacuated and stood outside nervously watching the scene.

Two Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department members, including Codey LaPage, spray water into a heating-air conditioning unit for a second-floor room that caught on fire at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge Tuesday afternoon. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

After the flames were out, firefighters climbed up to a second-story roof and began cutting away charred siding and fencing to get better access to the unit. As they dug through the siding, they exposed the measurements just recently left by contractors working on the building, which had been covered up by the shingles.

The hotel opened on Nov. 16, 2020.

The smoke and fire on the outside was contained to one second-story unit facing toward the lake, but the smoke poured out of several other windows as firefighters vented the building.

The fire amassed a small audience across Pontiac Bay as people driving by stopped and parked in the Lake Flower boat launch lot to watch.

Traffic on River Street was redirected to Pine Street, and traffic from Lake Flower Avenue was redirected to Pontiac Avenue.

Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brendan Keough points to the wall above the area where a blaze appears to have started in a second-floor room at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge Tuesday afternoon. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

David and Krista Langer, of Troy, were in their room on the fourth floor of the hotel when they smelled smoke around five minutes before the alarms went off.

“We had our heater on, so I thought it was ours,” David said. “We started smelling it in the room. I felt nauseous, so we had the window up.”

Several minutes later they were outside watching the firefighters knock down the flames.

The couple were celebrating their first anniversary in Saranac Lake.

“It couldn’t have been more eventful than this,” David said. “Everything’s closed in town, so we got some free entertainment.”

Flames and dark smoke pour from a heating-air conditioning unit from a second-floor room on the lake side of the Saranac Waterfront Lodge hotel just before 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. This photo was taken from across Pontiac Bay near the Lake Flower state boat launch. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Guests at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge stand outside the hotel Tuesday as they watch members of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department douse a small fire coming from a heating/air conditioning unit in water. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

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