The Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 67, the corporate headquarters for about 35 Capital Region Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, was destroyed in a spectacular fire early Thursday morning.
The multi-alarm fire was reported about 3 a.m. after a baker working in the building was alerted by a passing Department of Transportation driver, said Malta Ridge Fire Chief Peter Shaw.
The building, in addition to being a corporate office for regional franchise owners Burke Companies, was the bakery for at least a dozen local Dunkin’ Donuts shops.
Shaw described the building located between Northway Exit 12 and Route 9 as a “total loss” and said the town probably will order it demolished.
He said the heavy smoke present when firefighters arrived soon erupted into flames.
“It was a full response, and when we got here the building was fully charged with heavy black smoke and heat,” Shaw said.
Firefighters initially tried to tackle the fire from inside, but withdrew because of the smoke and heat, Shaw said. As the fire advanced, the building’s roof collapsed. Flames pouring from the building were visible to pre-dawn commuters on Route 67 and more than a dozen fire trucks were on the scene.
The fire’s cause is under investigation. Shaw said state fire investigators are assisting the Saratoga County cause and origin team because of the size of the financial loss, which Shaw said is probably more than $1 million.
“It isn’t necessarily suspicious, but because of the high dollar value the state investigators come in,” he said.
The building, which opened in 2000 with a number of architectural features requested by the town to give it a colonial appearance, contained a retail store, corporate offices and a regional doughnut bakery for other Dunkin’ Donuts shops.
Other shops supplied from Malta’s bakery didn’t get fresh doughnuts on Thursday and it isn’t clear how they will be supplied. Jerry Burke, who manages the regional franchises, could not be reached for comment.
The Malta Ridge Volunteer Fire Department was in charge of the fire scene, with assistance from Round Lake, Ballston Spa, Rock City Falls, Arvin Hart, Jonesville and Saratoga Springs firefighters. Other companies were called out to staff some of the vacated stations, Shaw said.
One firefighter who injured his arm at the scene was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
The fire caused major problems for the morning commute, with roads around the Dunkin’ Donuts closed due to fire equipment and ice on the roads that formed during firefighting operations in the sub-freezing temperatures.
Shaw said firefighters had to truck in a water supply even though the building is in the downtown area. The nearest fire hydrants were private ones at the nearby Malta Commons Business Park, but firefighters didn’t have permission to use them.
“It’s something we’re used to, because we’re a rural department, but it adds a layer of difficulty to the situation,” Shaw said.
Firefighters had to respond from stations several miles away. The Malta Ridge and Round Lake companies are in the process of building a new downtown fire station that would be just a half-mile from the fire scene, but it won’t be finished until sometime next year.