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The Times
  • Crews battle fire at former Union Fork and Hoe

  • Fire consumed the former Union Fork and Hoe building on Wednesday, which was currently in the process of being demolished to be revitalized for commercial development.

    No fire officials were immediately available for comment. Information on whether a cause had been determined, or if there were any injuries, was also not available.

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  • Fire consumed the former Union Fork and Hoe building on Wednesday, which was currently in the process of being demolished to be revitalized for commercial development.
    No fire officials were immediately available for comment. Information on whether a cause had been determined, or if there were any injuries, was also not available.
    A Telegram and Times reporter arrived at the scene in the village of Frankfort around 2 p.m. when a large cloud of black smoke could be seen from miles away.
    The fire appeared to start in one of the interior buildings and then spread to the exterior buildings on either side. Firefighters aimed two to three hoses at the blaze from the Industrial Drive side of the building. Ladder trucks were eventually brought in to fight the fire from a higher angle.
    Fire engines were continually coming and going from the site to bring in more water and to relieve other firefighters. The wail of sirens could be heard intermittently throughout the ordeal.
    The crackling of the fire and the crumbling of the building as the fire pushed through the buildings could also be heard from blocks away.
    Firefighters established pools of waters so they could continue to battle the blaze on Industrial Drive and on Main Street. Other buildings on Industrial Drive were hosed down by firefighters to help prevent the fire from spreading.
    Fire agencies from Herkimer and Oneida counties were called to the scene, including Frankfort, Ilion, Mohawk, Herkimer, East Herkimer, Newport, West Winfield, Cedarville, Clayville and Whitesboro.
    MOVAC also responded to the scene, along with Frankfort village police, state police and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
    A stretcher was seen being rolled to a group of firefighters resting from fighting the blaze.
    Several streets were closed to traffic so emergency vehicles could pass through to the scene more easily, including a portion of Main Street. Village police and fire police redirected traffic.
    Crowds formed on both sides of the building to watch as firefighters battled the blaze. Some were residents, others were passing-by and one said he could see the smoke miles away from his home and wanted to check it out.
    Many commented on the size of the fire, and seemed to be in awe of its magnitude.
    “It’s big. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Jim Romeo, a Main Street resident, who pointed out the yellow tint that could be seen inside the black smoke rising over the street.
    Shortly after 3 p.m., a storm rolled into the area bringing rain, wind, lightning and thunder. Some bystanders left the scene at this time, why others took shelter inside cars, homes or under trees to continue watching.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ten-year-old Alivia Pratt said she was worried about the fire because it was so close to her Orchard Street home. She said she was particularly worried about the animals inside her home.
    The former Union Fork and Hoe site has been vacant since 2006. The site is listed as Class 2 on the state registry of inactive waste sites, which represents a significant threat to public health or the environment and that action is required.
    Asbestos abatement had been scheduled for the building in June and demolition was originally slated for the end of July. Village officials have hoped to revitalize the area to bring another business to the area.
    “To my knowledge, the contractor was in the process of removing materials from the site and getting it ready for demolition,” said Frankfort Mayor Frank Moracco. “We don’t exactly know what caused the fire at this point, but we’re going to set up a meeting with the contractor tomorrow [Thursday] to find out what transpired.”
    Moracco said though the building was set for demolition, this was not the way he wanted to see the building go.
    “There’s a lot of history with the Union Tool site,” he said. “Hate to see a landmark go like this.”
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