Anyone passing the former Dairy Circus Tuesday couldn’t help but slow down and look.
Some spotted the owners, Robb and Doreen Clemons, stopping to offer memories of the ice cream and after-school spot that had stood for decades welcoming all-comers, but stood in ruins Tuesday after a fast-moving fire the evening before.
“It means we’re doing something right, I guess,” Robb Clemons said at the scene Tuesday afternoon, moments after another well-wisher stopped. “You get to know them over the years. Most of them become friends, not just customers.”
Clemons’ family had run the stand for more than 45 years, since 1970, records show. Before that, it stood as a Dairy Queen.
All that ended Monday evening when a fire began in a second-floor storage space that also housed equipment. The fire moved quickly through the structure, leaving it a burned out shell of a building.
No one was hurt in the fire. The approximately five employees and half-dozen customers there at the time of the 5:15 p.m. fire got out safely. Employees smelled smoke and evacuated immediately, Clemons said. His wife Doreen Clemons was among those present.
Clemons said the family is currently working with their insurance company. They expect the remains of the structure to be torn down soon. The village formally condemned it Tuesday, officials said.
Less than 24 hours after the fire, Clemons said the future of the shop is uncertain.
After the demolition, he said he expects to get together with his wife and their two college-age children to decide what to do next.
“I’m sure the kids want to rebuild, so there’s a chance that we might be rebuilding,” he said.
How much of a chance? “Over 50 percent, that’s all I’ll say right now,” Clemons said.
Scotia Fire Chief Kenneth Almy said an investigation into the fire is pretty much concluded. The cause is expected to remain undetermined, but accidental.
Investigators know it started in the attic portion of the second floor. But what exactly caused it, they’re not sure. They determined the structure to be too dangerous to go inside. They did take pictures using ladders.
Beukendaal, Thomas Corners, West Glenville and the Stratton Air National Guard personnel assisted Scotia firefighters at the scene of the fire Monday night.
Clemons’ father, Bruce, ran the Diary Circus from 1970 until 1980, records show. Robb Clemons took it over with his wife Doreen.
The business catered to area residents and students at the high school.
It even served as the backdrop in 2011 for a scene in “The Place Beyond the Pines” movie with stars Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes.
Scotia-Glenville High School is located across the street. Students on passing buses could be seen taking pictures. Walkers paused in front to look at what became of the shop.
David Thompson, who works at the middle school, stopped to look. He graduated from Scotia-Glenville. “I still can’t believe this happened,” he said.