Big Moose, N.Y. - New York State fire investigators are looking into the cause of a fire that leveled the huge 4 1/2 story former Lakeview Hotel that has overlooked Big Moose Lake for more than a century.
Town of Webb Police Chief Ronald Johnston says the fire broke out around 6:30 Friday evening.
Johnston says state fire investigators were called in to determine the cause, “No preliminary cause. We just had a meeting with the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and they’re telling us that they’re going to leave it as undetermined until we can follow up on leads.”
Johnston says those leads include interviewing area residents as well as utility company workers who winterized the structure earlier this fall.
Johnston says a family out of the Albany area purchased the structure about four years ago and they have been using it as a private summer residence ever since. He says they were not in town at he time of the fire, “They were not here. They’re typically only up here in the summer months.”
Big Moose 2nd Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Duffy says the fire that lit up the lake Friday night was a very difficult fire to fight and he says he is very thankful for the mutual aid from numerous area volunteer fire departments, “We have a side-by-side with track machines. It shuttled people down, shuttling equipment down, pulling hoses down. Like I said the road was very narrow, tough to get big equipment down there and our biggest problem that we face was water supply. We don’t have hydrants to just tap into.”
Duffy says water had to be pulled from Big Moose Lake, “Originally we were running a tank, a relay, we made a pond and set it up right at the corner of Moose Rd., we probably got about 2000 feet of line going from there to the fire.”
Johnston says it was amazing that a log cabin next door to the former hotel which also caught fire was saved, “The cabin next door that caught on fire was saved by the valiant efforts of both the Big Moose Fire Department and several other surrounding agencies from both Herkimer and Oneida county.
Duffy says it’s a sad day for many in Big Moose, “It’s extremely sad, being someone that has been around the lake forever. I used to give tours over there. It was built right in 1899, maybe a little bit earlier than that. Just a huge historical landmark, a big yellow building, extremely sad to see it go.”
Johnston says there’s no timetable as to how soon a cause may be determined. He also wasn’t sure if the family who owns the property had insurance on the structure.
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