SARANAC LAKE - Investigators are still probing the cause of a fire that swept through a single-wide mobile home off of state Route 86 this morning.
The blaze gutted George Donaldson's home, located at the end of a dirt road near Manning Hill, north of Saranac Lake between the village and Donnelly's Corners. It was reported at 9:23 a.m. by his cousin, Bob Donaldson, who lives next door.
"I was coming from town, and I came around the corner and saw the smoke coming up into the sky," Bob said. "At first I thought it was my house, but when I got closer I saw it was his. I called the fire department right away."
Saranac Lake firefighter Michael Boon, Fire Chief Brendan Keough and firefighter Ryan Hathaway battle a fire at a mobile home this morning near Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Bob also called George, who wasn't home at the time.
Saranac Lake firefighters were the first to arrive at the scene, followed shortly thereafter by crews and trucks from the Lake Placid, Bloomingdale and Paul Smiths-Gabriels fire departments.
When an Enterprise reporter arrived, thick white smoke could be seen billowing out of the home's windows and doors, and from under the eaves of its roof.
Village Fire Driver John Derby laid out hoses and attached them to a pumper truck parked in the driveway. A trio of firefighters led by Chief Brendan Keough broke down the front door of the home and plumes of thick, black smoke shot into the sky. A firefighter stood in the doorway and used one of the hoses to drench the inside of the trailer with water.
Meanwhile, Keough walked around the house with what appeared to be a heat sensor gun. He later climbed a ladder and used a chainsaw to cut a vent into the end of the building, just below its roof. Another vent was opened up in the back wall of the house where a fan was later used to eject smoke.
In a statement, the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department said the blaze was extinguished using approximately 10,000 gallons of water. The flames were contained to the rear of the structure, but there was smoke, heat and water damage througout the home, the statement said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Franklin County Cause and Origin Team. No injuries were reported.
George eventually arrived at the scene and watched with Bob as firefighters tried to save his house. He said had only been gone for about 15 minutes and was on his way to Lake Placid when he got the call.
"I have no idea what could have caused it," he said. "Maybe I left the fan on in the bathroom. The furnace was on, or that little propane (heater) in the front there, but that shouldn't have done it. It was in the back, they say, where it started."
Donaldson said he's lived in the trailer for the past eight years and all his belongings were inside. The building is probably a total loss, he said.
"I'm fine," he said. "As long as I wasn't in there and nobody got hurt. Everything can be replaced."
State police had closed state Route 86 from Trudeau Road to Donnelly's Corners to all vehicle traffic.