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Cause of Stonefence fire is still unknown, investigation ongoing

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Investigators are still searching for the cause of a Monday night fire that damaged the Stonefence Resort motel, 7191 Route 37.

Morristown and Ogdensburg fire departments initially responded to a report of a boiler fire at 9:30 p.m. However, firefighters said Tuesday the cause of the blaze may have been faulty electrical wires.

Morristown Fire Chief Kevin J. Crosby said he believes the fire started near an electrical distribution center in a basement crawl space. Investigators will still combing the scene Tuesday.

When firefighters arrived shortly after 9 p.m., heavy smoked protruded from the building as fire traveled through the walls of several adjoining rooms.

“We encountered heavy fire and smoke in the basement and first floors of the building,” Mr. Crosby said. “There was moderate fire damage done to four rooms (one room upstairs, three rooms downstairs) located in the middle of the unit. The fire damage was concentrated in the center of the building at a wall that was shared with the basement through the second floor.”

Ogdensburg firefighters applied water through the front of the building ,with Morristown firefighters sending attack teams and lines into the basement and to the back of the building.

Firefighters from multiple departments were able to contain the blaze before it spread to the rest of the building, Mr. Crosby said. He said without firefighters’ rapid, aggressive response, it would have been much worse.

“This is a very large wooden building, and we had a major fire when we arrived,” he said. “These guys went at it with all they had and saved most of the building.”

Morristown Volunteer Fire Department was assisted by Ogdensburg firefighters and volunteer departments from Brier Hill, Heuvelton, Lisbon and Rensselaer Falls, the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, National Grid, St. Lawrence Gas, the town of Oswegatchie, the state Department of Transportation, Ogdensburg Police Department.

The Morristown and Brier Hill department’s auxiliaries were also on hand.

A portion of Route 37 was closed for several hours, while multiple departments delivered water to help put out the fire.

The fire took over five hours to put out, Mr. Crosby said.

Todd D. Meseck, of Norwich, was staying alone in Room 105 when the fire started. He had taken a sleep aid but was awoken by the smell of smoke.

“All I remember is dreaming and smelling smoke in the dream,” he said. “I woke up, and was extremely confused. I had no idea where I was or what was happening.”

Mr. Meseck said he staggered out the back door of his hotel suite and onto the back deck when he realized the building was on fire.

“My senses started to come to me, and I ran to the lobby,” he said.

Mr. Meseck informed the front desk clerk, Donna Mae Daum, about the smoke. Mrs. Daum said she made sure people exited the lobby and the rest of the motel.

Another guest in Room 104 also exited the motel safely in time, Mr. Meseck said.

The hotel’s other half-dozen guests were staying in four other buildings on the resort, and were unaffected by the smoke and flames.

When firefighters arrived, Mr. Meseck went back into the building grabbed his luggage. He was on a business trip for Peebles Department Stores, which organized a reservation for him at the nearby Quality Inn at the Gran-View, 6765 Route 37.

Mr. Meseck said he had stayed at the resort several times before on business, but usually stays in room 506 at the Riverview Motel on the resort down the street.

In message on the social media website Facebook, Simplicity Restaurant owner Trevor R. Brunet said while his restaurant did not catch fire, the smoke caused damage to the restaurant’s heating and electrical systems. The restaurant will remain closed for the time being.

A representative of the hotel said Tuesday that the resort’s other four motels will remain open while the building is repaired.

The exact cost of the repairs to the motel has not yet been determined.

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