Written by Dane Zabriskie
posted on September 14, 2018 12:33
Fire claimed another notable house in the Thousand Islands, this time on the north shore of Grindstone Island. A call was placed on VHF Channel 16 to the US Coast Guard, by an alert sailor anchored near Camelot Island, at 10:30 pm on Friday, August 31. The call described a burning structure on Grindstone Island and was monitored by Clayton Fire and Rescue. This gave them a brief head start to prepare before the formal dispatch was announced.
The response was led by the Clayton Fire and Rescue (“Last Chance” captained by Jerod Wagoner and Dick Withington’s “STORMY”) and TIERS (Thousand Island Emergency Rescue Service), with assists from fire departments from Gananoque, Wellesley Island, and Alexandria Bay, and involved roughly 40 personnel.
Fire destroyed an 1880 cottage on the North side of Grindstone Island during Labor Day Weekend.
The fire departments departed in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but Last Chance captained by Justin Taylor had to return to fight a “re-kindle” after daybreak. The fire department left the smoldering house again near 10:00 am, to prepare for other emergencies that could occur on the Labor Day weekend. However, they left their hoses in place, since rising southwest winds were likely to re-kindle the remaining structure later in the day. They did indeed return on several occasions and a contractor was called to raze the remains of the burning house in the afternoon.
The water’s edge on the north shore of Grindstone is not the original location of the house, having been built in 1880, in the interior of the island by the Taylor family. According to David Taylor, in the 1950’s, the original home was cut in half and moved to the shore using logs for rolling and 5 tractors for pulling.
Over the years, the house had been expanded and renovated and was undergoing floor refinishing work at the time, leading up to the fire. They say, “a house is not a home”, but for this Taylor family summer home, at least a big piece of their home is missing today.
Fire, often with its diabolical companion, wind, is a well-known menace to life in the Thousand Islands. Destruction by fire has been the fate of many Thousand Islands structures including, countless cottages, estates, castles and many of the grand hotels from the Gilded Age (New Frontenac, Thousand Island Park Hotel, Columbian Hotel, and Pullman House). The fire in 2014, that destroyed “The Guzzle”, the volunteer fire department, post office and other concerns in Thousand Island Park reminds us that fire is a present danger, and not only a historical risk. It is a good idea for islanders to consider fire risks in everything they do. For more information on fires in the Thousand Islands, see past articles in Thousand Islands Life:
By Dane Zabriskie
Like many of us, Dane was shaped by his family, education, profession, and family, as well as the St. Lawrence River, where he has summered annually for more than 45 years.
Editor’s note: Dane is one of our Proof Readers and thus spends several hours each month checking out our articles. We appreciate the time and thank him!