Castile Town and Village Hall
CASTILE, NY - There is still no cause in the fire that destroyed the Castile Town and Village hall Tuesday.
Firefighters from 26 different departments responded to the scene of a blaze which destroyed a 125 year old building in Wyoming County.
PHOTO GALLERY: Fire Destroys Castile Town and Village Hall
The fire started around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday in the building at 55 North Main Street, and the cause remains under investigation.
Assistant Castile Fire Chief Brian Brown said the building is a total loss and expects demolition of the structure, largely gutted by the fire, to begin on Wednesday morning.
The building also houses Lorraine's, a restaurant, whose owner Lorraine Qutermous resided in an upstairs apartment.
A woman who identified herself as Qutermous' sister told WGRZ-TV the family has been unable to contact her, and that she fears that she perished in the fire.
"We have not located the owner, and that is part of the ongoing investigation," said Wyoming County Sheriff Farris Heimann. "I don't have anything else to say other than we have not located her yet," Heimann said, declining to say whether or not officials believe Qutermous was home at the time the fire broke out.
The Castile Fire Department says it appears the fire started on the second floor of the building.
By mid morning, village and town officials announced that they were declaring states of emergencies for their respective communities because their governments had no effective means of functioning normally.
"This gives them the opportunity to suspend certain procurement procedures, so they can get the supplies they need to get their village and town back up and running," said Wyoming County Fire and Emergency Services Director Tony Santoro. "It also allows them to suspend different laws and regulations as far as curfews and what not , and it helps the state give them recourses and assist them to get back on their feet as soon as possible," Santoro said.
Castile Town and Village officials say many records which were destroyed in the blaze, while of historic significance, were not the type of documents needed to operate their respective governments on a day-to-day basis.
"We were able to save our computers, which provides a back up for the day to day operations stuff," said Town Supervisor Stephen Tarbell. "Some of our forms, water meter books, and things like that we were also able to save," Tarbell said, as he gazed about a room filled with documents rescued from the building and piled on tables at the fire hall next door.
Tarbell and village Mayor Keith Granger announced late Tuesday afternoon that the Bank of Castile had graciously donated office space and telephone banks for the two governments to utilize, and Tarbell predicted both governments will be in full operation by Thursday, adding that they will be able to utilize the same phone numbers residents have become accustomed to.
The two also announced plans to hold town and village board meetings, as well as town court proceedings in the fire hall for the foreseeable future.
Exacerbating the problems in fighting the fast moving blaze, was the fact that an ongoing improvement project had rendered the nearby fire hydrants inoperable
"Wyoming County emergency services had set up a plan already in case there was a major fire," said Granger, in explaining why 26 fire companies from three counties were called in, many of them trucking in water to quell the flames.
"It worked very well, and we're very grateful for all the fire companies who came," Granger said.