Man homeless after blaze guts home


For the Recorder

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- A local musician whose home was ravaged by flames around 9:30 Wednesday night was able to escape the burning structure with a few of his treasured guitars, but there wasn't time to save anything else. He didn't even have a jacket.

That's according to an officer with the St. Johnsville Fire Department on Thursday -- the day after flames gutted the 35 Church St. home of guitarist Pat Clark, a member of Spike and the Boys.

"They're always playing benefits for someone else," said the official, who wished to remain anonymous. "We were happy to see [Clark] wasn't in the house. We're so thankful he was out."

The official said firefighters saved what they could of the small, one-family residence, "but there wasn't much."

Clark, who is staying with friends, had no insurance, the official said.

Also damaged during the blaze was an adjacent residence, which had some melting of siding, and Clark's vehicle, which was parked next to the building. The heat melted the vehicle's grill, "but I guess it still works," the official said.

While an exact cause of the blaze hasn't been determined, it's believed to be accidental in nature, starting in the area of a furnace, another fire official said.

Toni Brown, the owner of Curley's Video at 6 East Main St., has offered her shop as a drop-off place for clothing, furniture and other items for Clark. Items can be delivered to the store during business hours only: From 1 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or 1 to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Collections will then be taken to the St. Johnsville Masonic Lodge.

A post on the St. Johnsville, New York Facebook page lists clothing sizes (men's shirts, size large; shoes, size 7 1/2; 36 x 30 pants) and other items that Clark might need.

Among the many comments posted there is one from Nan DeNinno, with whom Clark is staying.

She wrote: "Everyone is so generous. This gave me an excuse to 'clean out' my extra stuff. We went out to eat tonight [and] did some shopping. Tea pot, warm blanket [and] a belt. So much generosity! I freaking Love our hometown!"

The fire official said Clark was home when the fire started. "He called it in," the officer said, noting that the flames spread fast.

"It was fully involved upon arrival. It's sad. We try to do the best we can to knock the fire down, but when [flames] are coming through the roof when you pull up," there's not much that can be done to save the structure, he said.

In addition to Fort Plain firefighters, St. Johnsville fire personnel were assisted at the scene by St. Johnsville Police and members of GAVAC/SAVAC Ambulance. Also responding were workers from National Grid and Time Warner Cable, who were working near the Church Street residence Thursday afternoon.

St. Johnsville firefighters were called back to the scene early Thursday morning for a re-kindle in a few record albums, it was noted. No injuries were reported.