One dead in Saranac Lake apartment fire

11 Elm St. is pictured here on Sunday morning after a fatal fire there. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

SARANAC LAKE — An unidentified Elm Street resident died in a fire at a Saranac Lake apartment building early Sunday morning.

The Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department responded to the structure fire at 11 Elm St. with three trucks and 15 members at 12:51 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and fire conditions. Seven residents, including two children ages 12 and 17, were evacuated from the building by village police and firefighters and are currently being assisted by the Red Cross. Two cats died in the blaze and two others, a black and white male cat named Bootz and a black-and-gray-striped male tabby named Tom Tom, are still missing.

The identity of the male resident had not been released as of Sunday afternoon. The body was removed by the Franklin County Coroner’s Office and will undergo an autopsy at a later date to determine the cause of death.

SLVFD Chief Brendan Keough said the fire was primarily contained to a single apartment, but damage extends throughout the attic and half of the building. Keough described the damage as “pretty significant.”

“(There is) extensive smoke and water damage,” he said. “It’s a very old building.”

According to Franklin County Real Property Tax Services records, the property is owned by Bob Decker, who owns many apartment buildings around Saranac Lake.

Firefighters were on the scene for almost 10 hours. Keough said the worst of the fire was extinguished “within an hour to an hour and 20 minutes.” Overhaul — the process of checking to make sure no fire remains — took much longer, he said. This is because the building had three levels of roofing.

“It took extensive work to extinguish hot spots that were in the attic and between different roof spaces,” Keough said.

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation by members of the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Franklin County fire investigators and Saranac Lake village police.

A GoFundMe has been started for one of the families affected by the fire. This can be viewed at www.gofundme.com/f/displaced-single-mother-and-children.

SLVFD received mutual aid at the scene from the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department and the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department. The Tupper Lake Fire Department stood by in the Saranac Lake fire station.

SLVFD was back in service at 10:53 a.m.

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This is a breaking news story. More details will be added as they become available.


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