LAKE PLACID - A malfunctioning coffee machine or a toaster was likely the cause of a fire that damaged the village of Lake Placid's Water and Sewer Department's maintenance garage early Saturday morning, Aug. 23, a fire investigator said.
The fire started in the right corner of the break room where a coffee machine and a toaster were located, said Joe Norton, an Essex County fire investigator. A black, V-pattern burn mark was directly above the appliances, he said. The fire then spread to other portions of the main bay of the garage and resulted in severe damage to about a quarter of the building.
"I'm not a coffee pot expert," Norton said, explaining the cause. "There was only two appliances over there that were plugged in: a toaster and a Keurig (coffee maker). I'm thinking it's more the Keurig than the toaster because the Keurig was just in use and the toaster wasn't used."
A village maintenance worker was at the garage Saturday preparing for his everyday routine before the fire happened.
"He came in really early, comes in before 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., loaded his truck up, got all his supplies, got a cup off coffee, went to leave and heard a commotion," Public Works Superintendent Brad Hathaway said. "He ended up opening the bathroom door and saw flames coming out of the (break) room."
The worker immediately called 911. The Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department responded at 5:15 a.m. Saturday and extinguished the blaze inside the metal garage at 179 Power House Lane.
Norton said it's likely that one of the appliances lit the polyurethane-coated pine wall inside of the break room.
"It got intense awful fast," Norton said. "There was an air conditioner in the window, and the door was open. Polyurethane on the pine was like throwing gas on the fire."
All that remained of the coffee machine was a morphed pile of melted plastic and a few wires, but that is the least of the damage and concern for the village.
The entire break room was charred black. The fire was so hot it warped the metal siding of the garage and melted the paint on the outside of the building. Two village water and sewer trucks were damaged by the heat but did not catch fire. Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said the trucks are likely beyond repair and will need to be replaced. Several other pieces of equipment and tools were destroyed. The building is structurally sound, Norton said.
Randall said the village will be reimbursed for damages caused to the garage.
"I don't have any information yet that would let me estimate the cost," Randall said. "The good news is we have coverage on all our buildings and equipment."
Rose and Kiernan Inc., headquartered out of East Greenbush, is the village's insurance agency. An insurance inspector surveyed the fire, Randall said. He met with the insurance company representative on Monday, and they discussed the process moving forward.
"The claims people will be in here again most likely Wednesday," Randall said. "What we'll begin discussing is the process for completing the claim, getting the value of the building's contents, the extent of damage determined. There is a fair amount to do there."
Randall said the garage is the newest and most used of any other garages in the Water and Sewer Department headquarters at Power House Lane.
"We do need to get it fixed fairly quickly," Randall said. "The conversation today was more along the line of restoring the building. It could be a while before that building is useful again."