Friday, 02 December 2016 12:01
After the Fire
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The lingering smell of smoke still permeated the air one week after a Thanksgiving Day fire displaced residents of five apartments and forced the closure of four businesses on Putnam and Caroline streets. A faulty electrical extension cord located in a small storage area in the rear of the Mio Posto restaurant was deemed the cause of the blaze. The structure most seriously affected, a vacant brick building on Caroline Street that most recently housed the Living Room, has been deemed structurally unsound and faces demolition. There is no set timeline of when that demolition may occur. City attorney Vincent DeLeonardis said inquiries were made as to whether the building’s façade may be salvaged, but it appears that salvaging any part of the structure will not be possible. The building, commonly referred to as sitting at 30 Caroline St., is listed as being located at 26 Caroline St. on tax forms and is owned by Louis Lazzinnaro. The 19th century brick building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. The organization continues to explore the possibility of preserving the building or the facade, she added. The building at 68 Putnam St. – housing the Mio Posto restaurant where the fire originated - appeared to have sustained serious damage as well, although engineers have yet to make a structural determination regarding that building. Saratoga Springs Fire Department crews encountered heavy smoke and fire conditions when responding to the incident shortly after 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 24. The fire extended throughout the first floor and ceiling areas and eventually burned into adjacent buildings housing Hamlet & Ghost - at 24 Caroline St. - and to the vacant building which formerly housed the Living Room bar. Hamlet & Ghost, Sperry’s restaurant, and the Ice House also sustained varying amounts of damage. “I was here that night, had just left and was a couple of blocks away when they called me and told me what was going on,” said Brendan Dillon, co-owner of the craft cocktail bar Hamlet & Ghost. “Us and Sperry’s are dealing with some similar stuff - a lot of water damage and smoke damage - and I think the Ice House has some structural stuff to deal with. This whole block was filled with smoke for a long time.” Residents from 24 ½ Caroline Street were safely evacuated. Dillon estimated it could be two to three weeks until his business reopens, and in response has kicked off a fundraising campaign to help support Hamlet & Ghost’s 18-member staff and their families until they are able to come back to work. “It’s something to keep our staff paid and happy for the next couple of weeks,” said Dillon, as workers piled scorched debris into a metal dumpster outside. “It’s a hard time of the year for anybody to be out of work and making sure we have some funds coming in to pay them was a big thing.” The GoFundMe emergency campaign has raised more than $10,000 and contributions may be made by visiting: https://www.gofundme.com/hamlet-ghost-emergency-fundraiser. A benefit will also be staged 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at The Merry Monk, 84 Henry St., and will feature a silent auction and sale of Hamlet & Ghost gift certificates and merchandise. A portion of the event’s food and beverage sales will also be donated to benefit Hamlet & Ghost employees. The fire began at about 2:30 a.m. and fire crews were still on scene 14 hours later overhauling and extinguishing small pockets of hidden fire. The Saratoga Springs Fire Department was assisted by members of Malta Ridge, Rock City Falls, and Ballston Spa fire departments. Wilton EMS and Empire Ambulance also responded to the scene.