Albion warehouse fire ruled an accident
Updated: Friday, October 18 2013, 07:30 PM EDT
Albion, N.Y. - A massive warehouse fire shut down the Town of Albion for nearly 10 hours Thursday. People within a two-block radius of the building on Western Avenue were told to evacuate and the rest of the town was advised to stay indoors and keep windows closed.
“We’ve had some big fires but this definitely ranks up there in probably the top two or three,” said Rocky Sadaris, Chief of the Albion fire department.
The fire started at Orleans Pallet Company around 2 p.m. Full of wooden pallets, the fire quickly spread through the building. Sadaris said within the first three minutes of the initial call, flames had already taken over the roof, and the second and third floors later collapsed.
“Everybody was afraid in this area,” said Wanda Riley, “We’re right next door and it looked like it was going to fall.” Riley, who works at Empire Coating Inc. said her building is full of volatile chemicals. “Highly toxic,” Riley said, “so that’s all I was thinking about because if it blows it blows the whole block.”
More than 150 firefighters from several different department, battled to flames to prevent the fire from spreading to the Empire Coating building and the chemicals inside.
Sadaris said, “Any time you have any chemicals it is a huge concern for us not only for the firefighters but for the community as well.”
Firefighters set up a four thousand foot hose relay to reach the canal to increase water pressure and douse the flames.
A collapse zone was set up in case the warehouse were to fall on the business next door and a hazmat crew called to the scene as firefighters secured the chemicals and evacuated the area.
Fire investigators said the cause appears to be accidental. The owner of Orleans Pallet Company was doing pipework on the second floor when a spark from the grinder got into a wall and ignited the fire. The two men inside escaped without injury.
The fire destroyed most of the building. Fearful that the weak structure will collapse, Sadaris said a demolition crew will take down the warehouse as soon as firefighters are done putting out the hotspots.