An early morning fire closed down Main Street in Lake Placid April 2 after heavy smoke was reported coming from a department store.
Heavy black smoke was seen coming from the stairway between the Gap clothing store and the Bare Essentials store. Fire fighters responded to the 7:15 a.m. call and worked through heavy smoke to ensure flames didn’t spread into the wooden structures of the brick exterior.
Fire responders closed down most of Main Street from 7:30 a.m. and reopened at 10:50 a.m.
First Assistant Fire Chief Tracy LaHart said firefighters diagnosed the source of the smoke to be coming from below the concrete stairs between the two stores.
“We believe a lit cigarette butt may have gone through a crack in the side of a the stairs and set fire to debris under the stairs,” LaHart said.
After cutting through the cement steps with a diamond blade saw, LaHart said at the bottom of the four story drop there was about four feet of cardboard and other debris that had accumulated over the past few years. At around 10:30 a.m., LaHart said the fire respondents were sifting through the debris to ensure any smolder was extinguished.
The two buildings suffered minimal smoke damage and firefighters also had to cut a several holes into the sides of the building. LaHart said the firefighters originally searched for the fire’s origin inside the stores and cut the holes into the walls to ensure it was not coming from inside the walls.
LaHart said the fire could have been avoided if the cigarette butt had been properly extinguished and warns community members to take precaution.
“We like to tell people to be careful with their lit cigarette butts, especially with the weather as dry as it is you really need to be careful so you don’t start a fire like this or especially a forest fire,” LaHart said.
Emergency responders from Lake placid Fire Department, Keene Fire Department, Saranac Lake Fire Department, and Wilmington Fire Department responded to the fire.