Firefighters battle blaze at Saranac Lake restaurant

Firefighters work to knock down a blaze at McKenzie's Grille in Saranac Lake Thursday evening. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — McKenzie’s Grille burned down Thursday night in a blaze that dozens of firefighters fought for hours.

It does not appear that anyone was injured in the fire. The restaurant was closed at the time.

The Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department got the call at 8:19 p.m. and sent over three trucks. At 8:30 p.m., the entire structure was overflowing with smoke. Firefighters were still on scene at 10:45 p.m.

The cause of the fire was not yet determined Thursday night.

Kelly Morgan said her brother Bryan was coming around the corner on Lake Flower on his boat when the fire started.

A firefighter sprays water down on flames erupting from the roof of McKenzie's Grille in Saranac Lake Thursday evening. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

“He heard a boom and saw the flames shoot up,” Morgan said.

She lives nearby and walked over after he called her. She saw flames at first, but then it was thick plumes of smoke pouring into the sky. When fire departments arrived, they began showering the structure with water. A crew of interior attack firefighters went in the back door with hoses and battled the fire from inside, surrounded by smoke and water.

Firefighters punched and cut holes in the roof from a bucket lift to get water inside from above. Smoke enveloped them in the air. After a bit, the holes in the roof where smoke belched out caved in, bringing the entire peak with them.

Eventually, the smoke gave way to flames again. Crackling could be heard as the building burned. The blaze could be felt around 70 feet away.

Numerous teams of firefighters on the ground doused the exterior walls with water, containing the fire within the walls of the building while firefighters high up in the air in the ladder truck rained down gallon upon gallon into the center, where the flames shot out where the roof had been.

Firefighters fight a fire at McKenzie's Grille in Saranac Lake Thursday evening. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

McKenzie’s Grille is owned by Jay Patel through the company Hari Krushna Inc. Patel also owns the Best Western hotel, which the restaurant shares a property with.

Large groups of people turned out to watch the firefight. Dozens stood in the parking lots of the Best Western, Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn and the Sara Placid Inn, as well as along the roadways and sidewalks. Lake Flower Avenue was completely closed during the fire.

After around two hours they had mostly knocked down the flames, but the entire roofless structure was still smoking heavily.

The SLVFD got assistance and a pumper truck from the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department. The Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department sent manpower. The Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department stood by at the SLVFD station. A National Grid crew responded and were seen in a bucket truck working on an electric transformer on a nearby pole before the firefighters began spraying down the building with numerous hoses.

A firefighter enters the back door of the McKenzie Grille in Saranac Lake Thursday evening as the fire department battled the blaze. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

This is a breaking news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.


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