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Fire at former Union Fork & Hoe deemed accidental

By JOLEEN FERRIS

FRANKFORT, N.Y. (WKTV) - Frankfort's fire chief says the massive fire that gutted several buildings at the former Union Fork & Hoe in the village on Wednesday afternoon was accidental, sparked by workers who were stripping materials in one of the buildings at the time.

Frankfort Mayor Frank Moracco says the workers were contracted by current building owners, Ames True Temper. The workers were trying to remove a diamond plate from the floor and tell village and fire officials that they emptied at least one fire extinguisher into the flames, but it was not enough.

The fire quickly spread and they had to run from the building to escape it.

Twenty four hours after it began, the fire that Herkimer County Emergency Management officials are calling the largest in county history is still requiring constant streams of water.

At its peak on Wednesday, it took several dozen firefighters from all over central New York to contain the blaze.

"There were approximately 30 companies from four counties operating here. Numerous personnel. I do not know the count exactly how many personnel were on the scene. Numerous pieces of equipment," says Frankfort Assistant Fire Chief Matthew Palumbo.

Herkimer County's Emergency Services Coordinator says mutual aid is part professional obligation, part brotherhood.

"At different times these agencies all respond to one another one time or another. And that's the whole idea of mutual aid and the brotherhood I guess you might say between the departments," says Robert Vandawalker.

Thursday morning, aerial ladders were still pouring powerful streams of water into two buildings at Union Fork & Hoe. By Thursday afternoon, fire officials pulled the water. The massive firefighting effort was putting a huge strain on the village wells.

"The water department was here last night and they informed us that the wells were down to just a few feet of water left," said Vandawalker.

Fire rigs remained at the scene Thursday in case any hotspots flare. Village officials are waiting for heavy equipment to get to the scene and tear down the buildings. That should happen in the next few days.

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