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Firefighters spraying 5000 gallons per minute to extinguish Brewery fire

By Andrew Donovan

UTICA - A fire is still blazing at the F.X. Matt Brewery after forcing the cancellation of the season's first Saranac Thursday. Firefighters and police personnel are still on the scene and working to put out hot spots, thirteen hours after it began in the canning part of the building.

During the massive fire of the four-story building, the roof collapsed onto the fourth floor. This then led to a third floor collapse. The building has been declared not structurally sound. Fire officials want to extinguish the hot spots and be able to dismantle the building themselves.

There is a lot of water being used to extinguish the fire. Five fire departments were on the scene Friday morning spraying from five different angles. A profound 5000 gallons of water are being used per minutes.

Utica Fire Marshal Raymond Beck says investigators are canvassing the neighborhood talking to people. An evaluation of the building is necessary but Beck fears of potential collapse, making an examination impossible at this time.

It will also be critical to talk to the two employees taken to the hospital. Investigators have not yet been able to do that. Fire Chief Russell Brooks says these two brewery employees have been taken to Saint Elizabeth Medical Center and are currently in satisfactory condition. We are told no guests from Saranac Thursday have been injured.

There was concern that chemicals used in the brewery could permeate the air surrounding the facility. Many streets were closed for the evening along with all businesses on Varick Street. Police went door to door evacuating people. Public Safety Commission Dan LaBella says the evacuation went smoothly.

There was a lot of packing material in the area of the fire that could be the source of persistent smoke. The canning area has many motors and is a floor above the regular bottling works area.

New Hartford, Whitesboro, New York Mills and Maynard Fire Departments assisted the Utica Fire Department along with National Grid on the scene Thursday. Public officials including Governor David Patterson have called to offer their support, according to a spokesperson from Mayor David Roefaro's office.

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