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HUDSON FALLS — Police said no criminal charges are expected in connection with last week’s fire that damaged a fifth story floor in the former Masonic Temple building on Main Street.

Thursday’s fire resulted in evacuation of the historic building, but just a small amount of charring to wood rafters and flooring.

Hudson Falls Police Detective John Kibling said fire investigators linked the smoky blaze to embers from a cigarette. He said there was no evidence it was intentionally set.

The fire damaged an area around a channel that was cut in the flooring for new wiring, which prompted investigators to initially conclude an issue with the wiring was to blame. But Kibling said a closer inspection found the wiring intact, and that the area of origin was not the wiring but was another source nearby.

A cigarette butt was in the area and other butts were found in a receptacle nearby. There was material that appeared to be a paper-like insulation around the flooring, as well as several layers of flooring, that could have helped the fire get going.

“You could tell it had been smoldering for a while,” he said.

One theory that was discussed was that the person could have been smoking on the nearby fire escape and the ember was blown into the building by wind. But because no workers had been in that area for several days, and there were a variety of different contractors in and out of the building in the days before the fire, it was unlikely that investigators could figure out who was to blame, Kibling added.

The building has been under renovations for years, as local lawyer William Nikas looks to convert it to retail and commercial space next to the re-done Strand Theater. The buildings first and second floors house Council for Prevention, McKernon Gallery and Jo & Co. Boutique.

Nikas said the fire won’t impact the work schedule in the building, though the smoking practices of contractors will undoubtedly change.

He said people who were inside smelled smoke but couldn’t place it, and a smoke alarm that was triggered ultimately directed them to where the fire was.

“We were very lucky,” Nikas said. “Fortunately it’s only a very minor hiccup.”

Kibling said the timing of the fire was fortunate, as an overnight fire that spread further would have been much tougher to contain.

“If this got going in the middle of the night, it would have been much, much worse,” he said.

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime, Warren County government and the outdoors for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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