50 years pass since Ilion High School Fire, firefighter's death

By ANDREW DONOVAN

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - It was 50 years ago Sunday that a fire broke out at Ilion High School, claiming the life of Ilion Fireman Burton Seymour on April 21, 1963.

Firefighters responded to the blaze on that morning. There was extensive damage to the building because of the fire, including two dozen classrooms, the auditorium, the girls' gymnasium, and offices. The fire originated in an air shaft on the third floor, with flames spreading to the roof because of high winds.

Seymour died fighting the fire, as he fell from the second-floor roof into the courtyard below. Volunteer fireman Robert Day was also seriously injured in the fall. Archive reports say Seymour and Day had been running hose lines over the building.

The Utica Fire Department also responded, using an aerial ladder.

Officials deemed the fire as arson, but no arrests were ever made and no suspects were ever identified after years of investigation.

Students were displaced following the fire and the entire district had to be shifted around, both with locations and with scheduling.

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