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Ogdensburg fire blamed on meth lab, firefighter under disciplinary investigation

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 2:34 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg police say a meth lab is to blame for last week’s fire at a home on Jay Street.

Firefighters were called to 1907 Jay Street Friday afternoon. Ogdensburg firefighters fought the blaze along with volunteers from Heuvelton and Morristown.

The fire was quickly brought under control. There were no injuries reported.

Police now say the blaze was touched off by “unlawful production of methamphetamine.”

Police also report assisting five people and two dogs in getting out of the house. Three cats perished.

Video from the scene shows heavy damage to the rear of the house.

No arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

The fire scene was the first city manager and fire chief Stephen Jellie arrived at to take control of since taking on the added job of fire chief last year. In some ways, things went very well.

“I was able to provide that level of support so that the captain could be freed up to be part of the initial firefighting crew,” said Jellie.

“We have a lot of well-trained guys in our union, and the volunteers in the surrounding communities do a great job too, so we worked well together to knock down the fire,” said Jason Bouchard, Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters president.

But one thing did not go so well. Monday morning Jellie confirmed there was a disciplinary investigation of a firefighter due to an incident at the Jay Street fire. He wouldn’t say anything further. The union also didn’t want to talk about it.

“There was obviously, as he indicated, discipline stemming from the fire,” said Bouchard.

Neither side will say exactly what took place. But by Monday afternoon both sides were saying the issue was moot. And they confirmed another firefighter will be retiring. They won’t say if it’s the same one. Five have retired this year. Some of the previous ones involved straight retirements. Some were done under threat of disciplinary hearings.

It’s been like this ever since the 2021 budget cut fire department jobs. To help the cuts along, the city offered retirement incentives.

The department now has 21 firefighters. That’s down from 27 previously. The firefighter who decided to retire Monday will receive an incentive payout of $35,000.

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