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Howard B. Owens's blog

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Historic Wiard Plow Co. destroyed by fire

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Wiard Plow Co.


Here are a few photos I took while at the scene. I'll post more later. We've also received numerous reader-submitted photos and we will post those later. I'm heading back to the scene as soon as this post is up.

A firefighter said it looked like this fire broke out only feet from where this afternoon's fire was apparently set.

The back of the building is a total loss. There is a chance the front half will be saved.

A number of firefighters I spoke with said they were thankful it's a cold and damp night.  With the direction of the wind and embers in the air, Harvester Center could have been ignited as well, if not for cold and damp weather.

More later.




Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Freeze watch in effect

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

Bad news for farmers and gardeners, a freeze watch is effect.

Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.

Currently, it's snowing.

The National Weather Service warns that this freeze could kill crops and sensitive vegetation.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Tree that fell into house on Manhattan Ave. nearly removed

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Manhattan Avenue


The report of this tree falling into a house at 2 Manhatten Ave., Batavia, came in around 5:30 p.m.

The initial report said the residents were trapped in the house, but they managed to get out before city firefighters arrived.

This is the scene at 6:51 p.m.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Possible barn fire reported in Elba

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, fire

A possible barn fire has been reported at 5327 Watson Road, Elba.

A generator that started smoking may be the cause of the fire.

An Elba chief on scene reports smoke showing.

A plumber from Oakfield is being sent to the Elba Fire Hall. Byron asked to stand by in its hall.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Photos: Wind damage in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, weather


A tree fell into a home on Kibbe Avenue. Witnesses said a limb pierced straight through the roof into the closet of a bedroom. One person was home, but nobody was hurt.



A tree down and blocking Jackson Street near Wood Street.


A man walking down Ellicott Street, trying to keep control of his umbrella in the wind.

More pictures after the jump:

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Swan Street fire caught early, before any real damage done

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire


A pair of teenagers walking behind the Wiard Plow Co. building on Swan Street spotted smoke coming from a window in the back of the old factory building, so they went to a nearby business and called 9-1-1.

When city firefighters arrived, there was just a little smoke showing and after they made their way into the building, they found smoldering office papers. They were files left behind from a previous business that had been set on fire, according to Lt. James Steinbrenner.

While the fire appears to be intentional, or at least set by the action of some person, there was no accelerant, which would be used in a typical arson.

The fire may have just be a result of people who were hanging out in the building and lighting matches. Four partially burned birthday candles were found in a room adjoining the interior office where the fire was found. The fire did not extend beyond that office.

The burning paper was extinguished quickly by the City of Batavia Fire Department.

The way the paper was spread on the floor, it's possible somebody has been using it as bedding.

Access to the building is wide open through a back wall that is completely collapsed.



Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm

National Grid bringing in crews from Syracuse

post by Howard B. Owens in national, weather

Genesee dispatch just informed incident commanders that National Grid is sending in crews from Syracuse to help with power-line issues.

No ETA. Also, a tree fell on a house at 2 Manhattan Ave. and the initial report was people were trapped in the house. An update says everybody is out of the house. There's also apparently an incident, possibly a tree into a house, on Ellsworth Avenue.

UPDATE 5:36 p.m.: Colby Road at Route 33 is being closed.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m.: Trees and wires down on Roanoke Road, East Bethany.

UPDATE 5:42 p.m.: Wires down at Rochester and Clinton streets in Bergen. There's also a report of a tree down, blocking, on Circular Hill Road.

UPDATE 5:53 p.m.: A wire is reported down on Route 98, south of Edgerton Road. Elba Fire is responding. The Circular HIll Road tree has been cleared.

UPDATE 6:19 p.m. Tree down, completely blocking at 52 North Lyon.

UPDATE 6:33 p.m.: Another tree is down on Gilbert Street, Le Roy, taking wires down and completely blocking.

UPDATE 6:36 p.m.: Report of a tree down blocking Old Creek Road near Cookson Road.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm

More trees down in Batavia, Elba and Bergen

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, elba

Tree branches are down in the area of 166 Summit St., completely blocking it.

At 9 Holland Ave., a tree is down and electrical wires are arcing.

Also, trees down blocking Macomber Road in Oakfield and a street in Bergen.

UPDATE 4:22 p.m.: A line is down and arcing on Route 77. Also, Batavia Fire is being dispatched to 71 S. Main St. for a tree limb on fire. A Le Roy Fire chief reports a limb down on Myrtle Street.

UPDATE 4:28 p.m.: In Le Roy, there are at least two limbs down on Myrtle, with one causing damage to a vehicle, plus one on Glibert Street. Le Roy is setting up a command post at the Fire Hall and requesting all available manpower.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Fire Dispatch just notifed all fire personnel to go to various operational channels and keep radio transmissions to a minimum: "We have several emergencies to get out."

Update 4:35 p.m.: There is some sort of fire on West Bergen Road. Wires are down on Elm Street in Le Roy, also in Le Roy several tree branches and wires are down and arcing on Lake Street. There is also an incident on Washington Avenue in Batavia that has the street shut down.

UPDATE 4:38 p.m.: A tree has fallen on a house on Kibbe Avenue.

UPDATE 4:40 p.m.: There's a chain reaction of poles down and wires popping on Clipknock Road. There's also another pole down in Le Roy, but we didn't catch the location. Also several poles and wires down on Bethany Center Road.

UPDATE 4:43 p.m.: Somebody just said, "We've lost all power in the village." Not sure which village.

UPDATE 5:09 p.m.: National Grid is on scene on Erie Street in Le Roy for lines down.  Also on Oatka, a large tree is leaning on wires. Wires are intact. In Batavia, Jackson Street is blocked at Wood Street. Darien is being asked to check 9295 Colby Road for unknown wires down.

UPDATE: A tree has fallen into power lines on Vine Street.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Tree branch smoldering on Warner Road, Darien

post by Howard B. Owens in Darien, fire

A tree branch has blown into electrical lines in the area of 11095 Warner Road.

The branch is smoldering. Darien Fire has been dispatched.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Another tree fallen on Platt Avenue in Le Roy

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

Le Roy Fire has cut up one tree on Platt Avenue today, and now a second tree has fallen blocking the stree in both directions.

Le Roy Fire is on scene.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

More than two dozen power outages reported in Genesee County

post by Howard B. Owens in genesee county

According to the map of power outages from National Grid, there are more than two dozen power outages in Genesee County at the moment.

None, individually, effect more than 20 customers.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Groundhog on Maple Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animal, photos


A groundhog spotted on Maple Street this afternoon.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Possible structure fire reported on Swan Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire

A possible structure fire has been reported at 33 Swan St., Batavia.

Batavia Fire is responding.

UPDATE 2:08 p.m.: There has been a good deal of scanner traffic and any response to this did not come across.  We just drove by the location and no fire is on scene, so they must have cleared.

UPDATE 3:24 p.m.: There was a fire. A small one.  In one of the old Wiard Plow buildings.  The fire trucks were (duh) behind the building.  A separate post on the fire, with pictures, later.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Wires down, possibly on fire on Bloomingdale Road

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, Alabama, fire

Wires are down and on fire, possibly igniting a grass fire at 1305 Bloomingdale Road, Basom.

Genesee County dispatch has received several calls.

Alabama Fire is responding.

UPDATE 3:33 p.m.: This call was cleared some time ago.  Alabama Fire just dispatched for a new report of a grass fire at the same location.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

Tree down, reportedly blocking West Bergen Road

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, West Bergen Road

A large tree has reportedly fallen and is blocking he roadway in the area of 8626 West Bergen Road, Le Roy.

Le Roy Fire is responding to cut up the tree and remove it from the roadway.

View Larger Map

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 11:52 am

Electrical fires reportedly on fire on South Main Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, South Main Street

Electric lines are reportedly down and on fire in the vicinity of 65 South Main St., Batavia.

Batavia Fire is responding.

View Larger Map

Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

State and CSX at odds over high-speed rail line agreement

post by Howard B. Owens in byron, high-speed rail, transportation

When New York reached an agreement with CSX for a high-speed rail line from Albany to Buffalo, it signed off on two provisions officials now seem to regret, according to the Buffalo News.

Rather than a rail line with trains reaching top speeds of 110 mph, the state's agreement only calls for speeds of 90 mph.

Also, the state agreed to a 30-foot gap between rail line along the CSX right-of-way.

The problem is, there are portions of the right-of-way that aren't even 30-feet wide, which means property will need to be bought (or seized through eminent domain) or overpasses will need to be reconstructed.

The resulting dispute between the state and CSX threatens to derail the entire upstate high-speed rail project — but to prevent that, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Friday assigned a top federal rail official to try to resolve the issue.

“I promised Congresswoman Slaughter that FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae will work with the state and do whatever it takes to make high-speed rail happen for New York,” LaHood said after the meeting.

Slaughter, meanwhile, said she was thrilled that Rae — who was the state’s top rail official before moving to Washington — would be devoted full time to resolving the disagreement.

The rail line will pass through Genesee County, with a demonstration project already funded for a line between Byron and Riga.

Friday, May 7, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Severe thunderstorm watch now in effect

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

The latest forecast for tonight's weather from the National Weather Service uses stronger language than earlier warnings to let residents know the thunder, lightning and wind hitting the area will be severe.

Doppler radar shows a severe thunderstorm, that could produce winds in excess of 60 mph, is heading toward Genesee County. The storm is currently 21 miles west of Grand Island and moving northeast at 65 mph.

"This is a dangerous storm," the Weather Service states. "If you are in the path, prepare immediately for damaging winds, destructive hail and deadly cloud-to-ground lightning. People outside should move to a shelter."

The severe thunderstorm watch remains in effect until 3 a.m.

UPDATE 11:55 p.m.: The NWS declared the warning over at 11:45, saying the storm front had weakened.

Friday, May 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Winds expected to blow hard tonight and tomorrow

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

Some pretty nasty weather is going to hit the Genesee County region over night, according to a National Weather Service forecast.

Around 2 a.m., thunderstorms are expected, followed by a cold front that will push through with high winds.

With foliage already on trees, the high winds could cause a good deal of damage.

A high-wind warning as been issued.

Sustained speeds of 25 to 40 mph are expected, with gusts up to 60 mph.

The wind warning is effect from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday.

Some of the strongest winds are expected from 4 to 5 a.m.

Friday, May 7, 2010 at 10:09 am

Neither attorney saying whether Scott Doll's son will be called as a witness in murder trial

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, crime, pembroke, scott doll

BATAVIA , NY -- In a brief conversation this morning, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he wasn't surprised yesterday when the attorney for Scott Doll, accused of murder, implied that maybe it was Doll's son who killed Joseph Benaquist on Feb. 16, 2009 in Pembroke.

As for whether Josh Doll will be called as a witness in the case, Friedman at first said, "You'll have to ask them," motioning toward the defense table. 

Asked if Josh Doll was already on his witness list, Friedman said Judge Robert Noonan doesn't really like attorneys to specify who is on what list.  He then said, "I just don't know (if he will be called)."

Doll's attorney, Paul Cambria, said he never discusses beforehand who he plans to call as a witness.

Of course, under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, people have the right not to make statements that implicate themselves in crimes. If Josh Doll took the stand, he could refuse to answer any questions that might implicate him in a crime.

Of course, if he wasn't involved in the crime, he would be compelled to testify truthfully to anything he knew.

An attorney we spoke to said that under court rules, neither the prosecution nor defense can call a witness they know in advance will take the 5th.

In yesterday's opening remarks, Cambria said that according to Scott Doll, Benaquist's dying words were, "The boy. The boy."  Some minutes later, Cambria said, Doll began to wonder if those words meant that Josh Doll was the killer.

Cambria used the concern of Scott Doll over the possible involvement of his son to suggest that Doll's state of mind may explain some of his actions and statements to Sheriff's deputies.

The trial restarted this morning shortly after 9:45 a.m.

Because of a prior commitment for Judge Noonan, today's trial session will end at 12:30 and resume Monday morning at 9:30.

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