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The Times
  • Investigation into fire at former Union Tools site complete

  • It took 210 emergency responders from 42 regional and state agencies 56 hours to extinguish the Aug. 1 fire at the former Union Tools site in the village of Frankfort.

    Fire Chief Charles Conigliaro on Wednesday evening reviewed the investigation into the fire that involved 12 structures and destroyed a 3.2 acre lot, acknowledging the efforts of everyone involved.

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  • It took 210 emergency responders from 42 regional and state agencies 56 hours to extinguish the Aug. 1 fire at the former Union Tools site in the village of Frankfort.
    Fire Chief Charles Conigliaro on Wednesday evening reviewed the investigation into the fire that involved 12 structures and destroyed a 3.2 acre lot, acknowledging the efforts of everyone involved.
    “Those were 210 people that came from as far as Fort Plain, Bridgewater and Richfield Springs. Their fire districts went without protection. Some people left their job, some people left their families, some people didn’t make it to work that day. We’re truly grateful for everything they did,” he said.
    Conigliaro also said his department was humbled by the assistance they received from community members. “I happened to be approached by a woman who came by and said here’s a hundred dollars. I was absolutely reluctant to take the money, but she said, ‘I want to do something to help out.’ This woman went to the fire station where she made sandwiches left and right. Businesses were bringing us hamburgers, hot dogs and cases of water — it was just very humbling to see that,” he said.
    The chief said the fire, which broke out at 1:49 p.m., was out of control within minutes.
    “It was a fire that we can call a conflagration — a very large fire that involves multiple structures that overwhelms the resources that are available to extinguish it,” said Conigliaro. “For a small department, even for a larger department, it was overwhelming. It was out of control in minutes.”
    The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental due to sparks from workers grinding metal plates during salvage operations. Conigliaro said the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s report states upon discovery of the fire, the workers tried to use a fire extinguisher to extinguish the blaze, however, it was already too far extended and the smoke was increasing rapidly.
    “The workers realized there was a fire and they were being consumed by the smoke, so the fire extinguisher they had obviously was not adequate enough to put the fire out,” he said.
    While the fire was under control after 12 hours, the chief said there was still work to do.
    “With structures of that size, and the amount of structures, they eventually collapse and create a pile of rubble which burns from underneath. Until the rubble is torn down and pulled apart, we can’t put it out. So you have what we call overhaul and we needed heavy equipment to do that,” he said.
    Conigliaro on Wednesday also quelled concerns over hazardous material contamination at the site.
    “A hazmat specialist was flown in from Buffalo to monitor the water supply, because there was rumor of some contamination, and he proved there was none,” he said. “I received the studies that say all of the contaminants and hazardous materials were removed from the site prior to the fire.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Conigliaro added since the plant closure’s in 2006 and the abandonment of site security in 2008, the property has been a major concern for the department due to its size.
    “It was always a concern that vandals might get into the building and cause havoc,” he said.
    Only one firefighter was injured battling the fire and he suffered from heat exhaustion.
    An incident overview will take place on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Frankfort-Schuyler High School auditorium. The chief said the objective of the overview is to present department personnel and public officials pre- and post-incident facts and the strategy involved in mitigating the fire.
    “Over the past three weeks our department personnel have been blessed with many ‘thanks’ and ‘jobs well done’ from local and long distance citizens. We are humbled by the recognition and appreciation. However, I will always remind them of all the support equipment and personnel assistance we received through the time tested mutual aid system. Without this system on that day, I believe this incident would have effected many lives and property,” said Conigliaro.

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