'Civilian' wakes people up in burning building in Ilion

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - Ilion fire officials say firefighters responded to a fire at the Crossways Tavern on East Clark Street and were greeted by a man they called a 'civilian' who told them where the fire was centered in the building and that all of the occupants of the two second floor apartments above the tavern had gotten out.

Ilion Deputy Fire Chief Robert Paddock didn't get into who this 'civilian' was, but a man believed to be that 'civilian' talked to NEWSChannel 2 when our crew arrived at the fire scene early Saturday morning.

He said he was inside the building waxing the floors in the restaurant section of the tavern around 4:00 a.m., when he noticed smoke in the ceiling above him, and knowing the building, he says he ran upstairs, banged on doors to wake the people who lived in the two apartments above the tavern.

All of the occupants did get out safely.

As far as the building itself, Deputy Chief Paddock says the owner was out of town at the time of the fire, but was on his way back to take care of things, so the future of the building which was badly damaged by fire, smoke and water damager, remains unclear.

Paddock says it would be a big change for Ilion residents if Crossways Tavern does not somehow re-open. He said, "That business has been there for three generations, and in excess of 50 years in the village. Yes I would say it's a bit of a landmark in the Village of Ilion."

Ilion Mayor John Stephens says he too will miss the old place. He said, "Inside it had the old style booths and bar stools and stuff like that, it was just a cool place to be."

Stephens says the building was actually a point of direction in the village. He said, "If you've hit the Crossways, you know, you've gone to far, or you have to turn left by Crossways, the name is just very well known in the village, it's been there since all of us were little."

Fire investigators are still trying to determine a cause.

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