|
|
|
The Telegram
  • One month after a major fire at Union Tools, cleanup continues

  • In his 36 years with the Frankfort Volunteer Fire Department, Chief Charles Conigliaro has only seen one other fire — several decades ago — that was comparable. Even then, there weren’t as many buildings involved as there were with the Aug. 1 fire at the former Union Tools. ...
    • email print
  • In his 36 years with the Frankfort Volunteer Fire Department, Chief Charles Conigliaro has only seen one other fire — several decades ago — that was comparable.
    Even then, there weren’t as many buildings involved as there were with the Aug. 1 fire at the former Union Tools.
    Twelve structures on 3.2 acres were damaged or destroyed. Forty-two regional and state agencies or departments from four counties were dispatched. And it took 56 hours for the blaze to be declared extinguished.
    “Without the help of all the agencies that came, it could’ve been a lot worse,” he said. “It wasn’t an everyday call. It is overwhelming for a small department.”
    From getting the blaze under control to the clean-up process, the site has proven to be a challenge to fire officials and property owners alike.
    About a month later, crews continue to clean up debris, and demolition was pushed back by about 90 days, said Dan Yurovich, the chief operating officer for property owner Ames True Temper.
    “Because of the fire, that changed the game plan around on how we cleaned up the site,” he said.
    Union Tools began as Union Fork & Hoe Co. in 1907 and evolved into Frankfort’s largest manufacturer, employing several hundred people at one point. Over the decades, workers streamed into the factory as garden tools and related products poured out.
    Since its closure in 2006, the property has been on the state Department of Environmental Conservation list for remediation needed due to the dumping of solvents on the plant property. Groundwater and the public well field were contaminated, as well.
    The site had been undergoing asbestos abatement and general preparation for demolition when sparks from workers grinding metal accidentally ignited the fire.
    Now, all work must be cleared by the state Department of Health and state Department of Environmental Conservation, Yurovich said. Conigliaro said water and air samples taken ensured there was no contamination to surrounding areas.
    TOUGH TO TACKLE
    In order to gain control of the fire, Conigliaro said all the agencies had to work together.
    “It was a large-scale fire, and it involves a lot of tactical operations going on,” he said. “This fire had to be divided into three sides.”
    Conigliaro said they were stationed on the north, south and west sides of the facility.
    “The strategy from the onset was to stop the spread to residential areas and make sure no one got hurt,” he said. “We drew a line where we were going to stop it.”
    In his 36 years with the Frankfort Volunteer Fire Department, Chief Charles Conigliaro has only seen one other fire — several decades ago — that was comparable.
    Even then, there weren’t as many buildings involved as there were with the Aug. 1 fire at the former Union Tools.
    Page 2 of 3 - Twelve structures on 3.2 acres were damaged or destroyed. Forty-two regional and state agencies or departments from four counties were dispatched. And it took 56 hours for the blaze to be declared extinguished.
    “Without the help of all the agencies that came, it could’ve been a lot worse,” he said. “It wasn’t an everyday call. It is overwhelming for a small department.”
    From getting the blaze under control to the clean-up process, the site has proven to be a challenge to fire officials and property owners alike.
    About a month later, crews continue to clean up debris, and demolition was pushed back by about 90 days, said Dan Yurovich, the chief operating officer for property owner Ames True Temper.
    “Because of the fire, that changed the game plan around on how we cleaned up the site,” he said.
    Union Tools began as Union Fork & Hoe Co. in 1907 and evolved into Frankfort’s largest manufacturer, employing several hundred people at one point. Over the decades, workers streamed into the factory as garden tools and related products poured out.
    Since its closure in 2006, the property has been on the state Department of Environmental Conservation list for remediation needed due to the dumping of solvents on the plant property. Groundwater and the public well field were contaminated, as well.
    The site had been undergoing asbestos abatement and general preparation for demolition when sparks from workers grinding metal accidentally ignited the fire.
    Now, all work must be cleared by the state Department of Health and state Department of Environmental Conservation, Yurovich said. Conigliaro said water and air samples taken ensured there was no contamination to surrounding areas.
    TOUGH TO TACKLE
    In order to gain control of the fire, Conigliaro said all the agencies had to work together.
    “It was a large-scale fire, and it involves a lot of tactical operations going on,” he said. “This fire had to be divided into three sides.”
    Conigliaro said they were stationed on the north, south and west sides of the facility.
    “The strategy from the onset was to stop the spread to residential areas and make sure no one got hurt,” he said. “We drew a line where we were going to stop it.”
    The facility itself posed many problems for crews, including the lack of working fire protection systems and fire doors.
    Then there was an accessibility issue, Conigliaro said.
    Trees had to be cut and fences knocked down just to get to the buildings.
    Thankfully, the nearby marina allowed tankers to easily truck water to the site to ensure crews didn’t exhaust the municipal water system, Conigliaro said.
    “The water system itself worked fine; it just wasn’t enough,” he said. “We were fortunate of the fact that the marina was in close proximity.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Despite delays with the cleanup prompted by the fire, village Mayor Frank Moracco said an international company still is interested in purchasing the site.
    Moracco has said the company has the potential to bring in 300 to 500 jobs between three businesses.
    The mayor wouldn’t provide information on the company, but he said that it would be taking over the 32 acre site, plus the buyer is interested in an additional 70 acres.
    “It’s all contingent on when and if the Ames property becomes available,” he said. “If DEC gives the OK — that they’re satisfied with everything, that Ames is done — then Ames would negotiate with the investor.”

      calendar