Raymondville Woodchop Shop fire remains under county, state investigation
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - 12:13 pm

The Monday morning fire at the Raymondville Woodchop Shop, above, remains under investigation, according to fire officials. Photo from Potsdam Fire Department.

By ANDY GARDNER

RAYMONDVILLE -- State police probed the Monday morning fire at the Woodchop Shop but have closed their investigation with no charges filed.

The store, at 9398 State Route 56, burned late on Monday morning and is considered a total loss, according to Norfolk Fire Chief Richard Bump.

Despite state police closing their probe of the fire, Bump said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, which involves St. Lawrence County and New York state fire investigators.

He declined to say if it’s considered suspicious. State police did not immediately return a request for comment.

“Everything remains under investigation,” Bump said.

He said the initial efforts to fight the fire were hampered by low manpower because it was during what are normally working hours for most volunteer firefighters.

“It was a daytime fire … everyone works,” the chief said. “I think a lot of organizations deal with that. It was a well fought fire by all fire personnel.

“Thankfully there’s still some employers out there that allow their members to work in time of need, for circumstances like this. If it wasn’t for that, it would make things more difficult.”

In addition to that, the building contents made the fire more difficult for firefighters to attack.

“Being a Woodchop Shop, it’s a small engine repair shop so you’ve got oils, acetylene propane tanks … chainsaws, lawn tractors, all the plastics and everything just adds fuel to fire,” he said.

More than 40 firefighters responded to the incident. They came from departments including Norfolk, Louisville, Massena, Norwood, Madrid, Brasher-Winthrop, Waddington and Potsdam. Norfolk Rescue was also on scene, but there were no injuries, Bump said.

John Clemmo, who is one of the store’s co-owners, said he was not at the store when it burned, and isn’t sure of the cause.

“I’m assuming electrical but I’m no fire guy,” he said, adding that it started in the back right corner of the building in a repair area. He said everything in the building was destroyed and he does not yet have a damage estimate, but is insured.

He said customers will be able to drop off equipment in need of repair at the Raymondville location, and employees will send it to one of their two other stores.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’ve just got a little hiccup. Repairs will be done at other locations,” Clemmo said. Hopefully we’ll recover and take care of what we need to take care of.”

Owners of the Woodchop Shop offered appreciation to firefighters and said they would continue operations at their Canton and Ogdensburg locations following the blaze, which destroyed the Raymondville location Monday.

“The Wood Chop Shop is extremely thankful to our local firefighters for their support. We will continue to serve our customers in our Canton and Ogdensburg,” Terri Clemmo said.

She is the wife of John Clemmo, who co-owns the business with Steven Gollinger.

A video of the fire is at https://tinyurl.com/y9gguqfj.