North Country Janitorial fire deemed spontaneous combustion

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north country janitorial fire day after

North Country Janitorial Inc. cleans up Thursday after a fire Wednesday night in Glens Falls, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A fire that left extensive damage to parts of North Country Janitorial Inc. was caused by spontaneous combustion, according to the Glens Falls Fire Department.

Fire Chief James Schrammel said in a phone call that although one half of the building was largely unharmed, the other suffered extensive smoke and fire damage in a fire around 7 p.m. Wednesday at 188 Dix Ave. The building’s office and linen areas suffered the most damage.

Schrammel said spontaneous combustion had not been a recorded issue at North Country Janitorial before, but have seen similar kinds of ignitions in homes and other locations.

Chris Barden, North Country Janitorial’s chief operating officer, said the site of the blaze was one of five main divisions the building is split into.

“That one division was heavily impacted,” he said. “Luckily the other four were ready to roll.”

The building will need renovations, along with electrical and mechanical replacements. Nobody was in the building when the fire took place.

The cause of the combustion was something in the linen section, but Barden said there wasn’t much way of knowing exactly what. One way or another, he said, absorbent materials in contact with flammable substances must have been placed in the wrong spot.

In the meantime, they’re getting help from the neighbors.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some great partnerships with some companies locally that have helped us with laundry capacity,” he said.

Glens Falls firefighters spent around 3 hours at the site of the blaze, knocking the fire itself down in the first hour. Firefighters from Queensbury and South Queensbury fire departments were also on the scene.

North Country Janitorial Inc. provides building cleaning, disaster restoration, construction cleanup and other services, and employs around 230 employees. The building is one of five owned by the company, which does business from Albany to the Canadian border.

The company had intended to purchase a sprinkler system for the building this year, but had to abandon that project due to income changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, an expensive lesson learned,” Barden said.

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