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Fire destroys Millbrook business

MILLBROOK — A raging fire broke out at 63 Front St. on Wednesday, July 28, just as the village was preparing to repair a water line leak. The early morning fire completely destroyed the buildings and contents of Country Road Associates, a dealer in vintage woods and manufacturer of antique reproductions.

Ted Bownas, Millbrook Fire Department chief, said the county fire investigator’s Cause and Origin Team examined the site immediately after the fire was extinguished and reported the cause of the fire remains “undetermined.” The loss was total and by Wednesday afternoon all that was left were piles of smoldering, charred remains.

The blaze was called in at 3:53 a.m. by a post office employee on his way to work and the firehouse alarm sounded. State police were dispatched to the site at 3:55 a.m., arriving at the same time as the first two firemen.

The barn was fully engulfed with flames reaching higher than the treetops, according to the state police report, and appeared to have originated in the center of the barn on the right side. Witnesses said that up to 70 percent of the structure was on fire by the time firemen got to the scene.

Chief Bownas guessed that the blaze might have been burning for up to an hour before anyone noticed the flames and smoke. A second alarm went out and fireman from seven other mutual aid fire departments started to arrive with their equipment. Bownas estimated that between 35 to 40 firemen worked together under the command of Millbrook Fire Department Deputy Chief Rich Shankman and Assistant Chief Anthony DeBonis.

By 5:30 a.m. the fire was under control and by 8:30 a.m. it was out. The north and east wall of the showroom remained standing and firemen assisted Country Road employees in salvaging some furniture and records from the office and showroom. Building Inspector James Brownell Jr. then condemned the structure, and excavation equipment pulled the walls down.

Local architect Michael Sloan, who lives about a quarter of a mile from the site, heard the fire department siren go off, saw the glow of flames in the sky near his office on Front Street and rushed to the scene.

“The whole barn section was completely engulfed by flames and cans of paint were exploding,” he said, guessing that the fire could have been caused by the varnish and oily rags used in furniture making. That theory could not be confirmed.

Mayor Laura Hurley received a call from former Mayor Andy Ciferri, a lifetime volunteer fireman, and raced to the site, where she stayed until 8:30 a.m. It was her first fire as mayor.

“[I was] amazed at the fast, professional response of the fire company and relieved that the damage was confined to one parcel,” she said.

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