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Garage fire in Rensselaer Falls destroys classic cars

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RENSSELAER FALLS — A Sunday morning fire that destroyed a garage containing four classic cars and a van may have been caused by a battery installed the day before in a 2005 BMW, according to a St. Lawrence County fire investigator.

The 2,500-square-foot garage, 2 Birch St., is owned by Kyle D. “Fireball” Hartman and was not insured, said W. Joseph Lacks, a county fire investigator who was called to the scene. The blaze was called in about 1:40 a.m. Rensselaer Falls and Heuvelton firefighters responded.

“It was a big fire,” Mr. Lacks said. “There was a big fuel load, two barrels of oil and cut wood.”

Although the cause of the blaze is undetermined, Mr. Lacks said the source may be a new battery installed into the BMW Saturday. The investigation is complete.

“The car was in the area of the fire’s origin,” Mr. Lacks said. “It was one of the things we could not rule out.”

Mr. Hartman said he and his wife, Sally W., were at their camp in Russell when the blaze broke out. The garage is about a block and a half from their Front Street home.

“It’s a real shame,” Mr. Hartman said. “Two of the cars were priceless. They were my dad’s.”

The destroyed vehicles included a 1957 convertible and a 1937 English Austin.

Mrs. Hartman’s pottery equipment, including five kilns, also sustained damaged.

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