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Fire in Jay destroys garage, damages house

April 18, 2013
Lake Placid News

JAY - Fire destroyed a Montreal dentist's garage and severely damaged his adjoining second home in the town of Jay Tuesday.

A passerby called 911 around 11 a.m. to report the fire at the property on Stickney Bridge Road north of the hamlet of Jay; at the same time, the house's security system was ringing in the fire alarm to the Essex County emergency dispatch hub, according to Jay Fire Chief Glenn Williams.

Williams said he was the first firefighter on the scene and saw the garage spouting 40- to 50-foot flames, which were being fanned by 20 to 25 mph winds.

The fire spread to the house and did heavy damage, as did smoke and the water used by Jay and five other nearby fire departments: Upper Jay, AuSable Forks, Wilmington and Keene.

"The garage is a total loss, and the house - I'm gonna say there's significant damage," Williams said.

The fire started around the garage area, Williams said, and that the cause was accidental.

Homeowner Dr. Paul Van Wijlen and his family were not at the house at the time of the fire but had just been there this weekend, leaving Sunday to return to their primary home in Montreal, Williams said. They come to the house "on weekends and throughout the summers," the fire chief added.

Van Wijlen drove down from Montreal Tuesday when a neighbor informed him that his house was on fire. Firefighters were still on the scene when he arrived.

"We were picking up when he showed up," Williams said. "He didn't realize there was that much damage.

"He was pretty devastated. It being a vacation home where they come and enjoy themselves, he was pretty upset. He said he was pretty amazed, in a small community here, to see the number of volunteers here that was helping out."

-Peter Crowley



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