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Fire destroys Clayton riverside cottage; police investigating cause

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CLAYTON — No one was injured in a fire that destroyed a cottage at 40488 Riverwood Estates Lane on Friday afternoon.

Clayton Fire Chief Dale C. Harvey said 15- to 20-foot flames were shooting from the structure’s roof when firefighters arrived just after 2 p.m.

“It was engulfed, and it was hot,” he said.

About 40 firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze in about 30 minutes, but the cottage was a total loss. The heat from the fire also damaged the exterior of a home about 30 feet away owned by Stephen A. Mack, who reported the fire.

Mr. Mack said he was lying on his couch, looked out at his neighbor’s deck and initially thought the smoke was spray coming from a power washer. He then saw the flames.

“I didn’t have my shoes on, and I ran out of the house,” he said, adding he ran back inside to call 911.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it began on the St. Lawrence River side of the structure, Chief Harvey said. The insured cottage is owned by Patrick D. Micale, who had completely renovated it in 2000 and was renting it to a retired couple, Mary and C. Patrick Fitzsimmons, former Alexandria Bay postmaster. Neither the couple nor their dog was home at the time of fire, but Mrs. Fitzsimmons lost important medications.

“They lost everything,” Mr. Micale said.

In addition to Clayton, firefighters responded from departments at Depauville, LaFargeville, Fishers Landing, Alexandria Bay and Wellesley Island. Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service also assisted at the scene.

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