A fire tore through a 1½-story house at 39361 Houghton Road in the town of Antwerp shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, destroying the dwelling before firefighters were able to contain the blaze about an hour later.
No residents were present at the time the fire started, but two dogs a Labrador retriever and a beagle mix were killed.
The house is rented from owner Gary Davis by Ronald White and Janette Allen. Mr. Whites 14-year-old son, Jerico J., an Indian River Central School District student, was at school at the time of the fire.
Jefferson County Fire Investigator Jeffrey M. VanBrocklin, who was assisted by St. Lawrence County Fire Investigator W. Joseph Lacks, said the blaze originated in a bedroom, and is believed to have had an electrical cause. There are some factors that need to be ruled out, however.
The upper portion of the house was used for storage. The couple, who did not have renters insurance, lost all their belongings. Mr. Davis has insurance on the structure.
Mr. White, who had left the house a short while before the fire began, returned to find dark smoke spewing from under the eaves.
He made an attempt to rescue the dogs, which were in a cage, but was forced back from the entryway by intense heat and smoke. He then broke a window to try to get in, and cut his arm in the process.
Firefighters from the Antwerp, Oxbow, Theresa and Gouverneur departments responded to the scene.