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Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Smoke in the basement reported on Coniber Road, Pembroke

post by Billie Owens in east pembroke, fire, pembroke

Smoke in the basement is reported at 8309 Coniber Road. East Pembroke and Pembroke fire departments are responding.

UPDATE 7:22 p.m.: Command on scene confirms light smoke in the basement.

UPDATE 7:28 p.m.: The smoke reportedly smells like fuel oil of some sort.

UPDATE 7:40 p.m.: Fire command is speaking with the homeowner, although no one was home at the time of the call. The chimney may be the source of smoke.

UPDATE 7:51 p.m.: They are ventilating the structure.

UPDATE 7:55 p.m.: East Pembroke command says the source of the problem is a faulty furnace and the homeowner is going to take care of it. The assignment is back in service.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 11:50 am

Burnt toast on main campus building at GCC prompts evacuation

post by Billie Owens in batavia, fire

The main campus building of Genesee Community College was evacuated after a fire alarm sounded. Campus security called dispatch to report the source was burnt toast inside the main campus. Town of Batavia Fire Department is responding.

UPDATE 10:54 a.m.: Firefighters report nothing showing from the outside. The burnt toast is said to be inside a second-story faculty break room.

UPDATE 10:56 a.m.: Command says responding units can continue, non-emergency mode.

UPDATE 11:23 a.m.: The town assignment is back in service.

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Possible house fire on Beckwith Road, North Pembroke

post by Billie Owens in fire, pembroke

A possible fire at a house filled with smoke in North Pembroke requires the response of all available manpower from the East Pembroke Fire Department, plus an engine mutual aid from Alabama. The address is 2334 Beckwith Road, between North Pembroke and Slusser roads.

UPDATE 7:48 p.m.: Responders think they have the fire out. Alabama is told to stand by in quarters.

UPDATE 8:14 p.m.: Alabama fire back in service.

UPDATE 8:22 p.m.: Problem solved. East Pembroke is back in service

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

Donation fund set up for widow of Davis Avenue fire victim

post by Howard Owens in batavia, fire

A donation fund has been set up to assist Candee McConnell, who lost her husband and had a portion of her house damaged in a fire last week.

Donations can be made at any Bank of Castile location in the name of Candee McConnell.

Candee and George McConnell were married for 25 years and were active in the SPCA. George was retired from the U.S. Postal Service and a World War II vet and avid baseball fan, according to his obituary.

For health reasons, George was unable to exit a second-floor bedroom of the McConnell's home on Davis Avenue after the fire broke out in that part of the house.

The back section of the house was heavily damaged.

Donations will assist Candee with various needs arising from the tragedy.

Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Residence on State Street reportedly filling with smoke

post by Howard Owens in batavia, fire

The lower apartment at 142 State St., Batavia, is reportedly filling with smoke.

City fire responding.

The occupants have been advised to evacuate.

Engine 11 is on scene with light smoke showing.

UPDATE 7:30 p.m.: Small fire in bathroom. Fire knocked out. Checking for extensions.

UPDATE 7:55 p.m.: City assignment back in service.

Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

Stove fire at Alex's Place

post by Billie Owens in batavia, fire

Town of Batavia Fire Department is responding to a stove fire at Alex's Place restaurant, located at 8322 Park Road. Darien's rescue truck is requested to stand by in quarters.

UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: Fire is out. The assignment is back in service.

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Car fire on Thruway, Le Roy responding

post by Billie Owens in fire, Le Roy

A car fire is reported on the eastbound Route 90 at mile marker 379. Le Roy fire and medics are responding. State Troopers are on scene. Several people were seen running away from the vehicle. Responders are told to stage at the toll booth.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Smoking blamed for fatal fire on Davis Avenue

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Davis Avenue, fire

Investigators have determined that the fatal fire early this morning at 10 Davis Ave., Batavia, was caused by "careless use of smoking materials, i.e., cigarettes and lighters."

The fire, first reported around 2 a.m., took the life of 87-year-old George A. McConnell.

McConnell's wife, Candace McConnell, was not injured in the fire.

George was apparently unable to exit his second-floor bedroom after the fire started. Candace made her way to the first-floor back porch and was assisted from the house by Officer Darryl Streeter.

The fire investigation was conducted by the Batavia Fire Department and the Batavia Police Department.

Previously: Fire on Davis Avenue claims life of 87-year-old resident

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Dump truck has struck power lines on Route 77, Corfu

post by Howard Owens in corfu, fire

Power lines are reportedly sparking along Route 77 near Cohocton after a dump truck hit them.

The driver is out of the vehicle.

Corfu fire is responding.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

No employees will be out of work in wake of devastating fire at Baskin Livestock

post by Howard Owens in Baskin Livestock, Bethany, business, fire

The Friday morning after a fire destroyed key components of the feed-making process at Baskin Livestock, one of Bill Baskin's newest hires walked into his office. He was certainly wondering if he still had a job starting Monday morning.

"I said, 'Joe,' " Baskin said, " 'Don't worry about it. Come here Monday. You've got a job.' "

Baskin hired two new workers last week and both, like his other 50 employees already on the Baskin payroll, all have jobs, he said. There will be no layoffs even though it will be months before the feed operation is fully operational again.

The feed portion of Baskin's business involves collecting waste from large bakeries operating throughout the Northeast, drying it (if it's not dry), separating it from packaging (if it's packaged) and grinding it into grain that can be used as feed for cows.

Baskin Livestock processes 1,500 tons of feed each week.

The company has hardly missed a beat since Thursday night's fire. Trucks keep bringing in waste product and Baskin has lined up agreements with three other similar operations to buy the waste Baskin collects and sell him back the finished feed, which he can then sell to his customers.

There's been some lost sales in the immediate aftermath of the fire, Baskin said, but the procurement side of the business has continued nonstop.

"Procurement is important because a place that is making cookies or donuts or cakes, if they can't get rid of their waste, they have to shut the plant down," Baskin said.

We may never know how the fire started.

The ignition point was somewhere in the area of the equipment that screens and separates material for feed.

"Was it in the fan, was it in the cyclone, was it in the compactor motor? I can't tell you, but that's where the fire started," Baskin said.

Ironically, Baskin was just four weeks from finishing the installation of new equipment that would have pretty muck taken the equipment where the fire started out of production.

"If that was the case (the new equipment in place), the part that failed, whatever part it was that failed, would not be in use," Baskin said.

Baskin hasn't sat down and totaled up the cost of the damage yet, he said, but it's probably approaching seven figures and could exceed a million dollars.

That doesn't count temporary lost sales and the big cut into profit margins while his feed is being processed in out-of-state plants.

The big unknown is how much damage the main building, the warehouse, sustained. It will take a battery of structural tests on the I-beams and foundation to determine if the building is still structurally sound.

"Our structural engineer who designed the building said it's all a function of how hot it got and how fast it cooled," Baskin said.

"You don't want to have a two-foot snowstorm," he added, "and have your roof sitting on your equipment."

The other irony of the fire, Baskin said, is it started in the screening area of the process, not with the burners.

The fire that severally damaged Baskin Livestock five years ago started in the burner and the current system is built with state-of-the-art fire-suppression technology.

If the burner detects even an errant spark it ejects the product being dryed onto a cement pad outside the building and the system is deluged with water.

"We've got so many safety features built in on the drying end because you figure you're running 1,400 or 1,500 degree burner to dry this feed, 25 million BTUs, with all kinds of opportunities for failure there, so everything is designed around that," Baskin said. "Then we've been running this (the screening area) for years without a problem and that's where the failure was."

Baskin had just climbed into bed when he got the call from an employee that there was a fire and when he and Susan looked out their window, they could see the glow.

Baskin jumped in his car and rushed to the plant. He immediately got an a skip loader and created a fire break in the warehouse, moving product on the floor away from the burners and the north side of the building to slow the opportunity for the fire to spread to those pieces of critical and expensive equipment.

When firefighters were on scene and had sufficient water supply, he implored them to fight an interior fight in the warehouse to keep the fire from spreading north, and the strategy appears to have worked.

Baskin is grateful for the support of so many people in the community, the close friends he and his wife, Susan Blackburn, have made in the 21 years they've lived here. He also praised the Bethany Fire Department in particular, but all of the departments that responded to the fire, for their hard work and dedication to their jobs.

Even his customers have set aside hard-nosed business negotiation to offer their support and express their desire to keep doing business with Baskin Livestock.

"The bakery people say we're glad you're OK because you're really important to us," Baskin said. "I've had customers say we can cut back a little bit but we really want to keep your product in our product flow. What can you so to help us get through until you're back full steam? It's gratifying that at the end, after you're done fighting over price, fighting over product, there's that kind of concern."

He's told his employees not to worry about their jobs, that Baskin Livestock will be a bigger and better company once the plant is fully functional again.

Baskin estimates the plant will be 75 percent operational by Christmas and up to 100 percent by March 1.

In an interview Monday, Bill Baskin was all business talking about his business, but when asked what was different or what was the same about this fire and the fire five years ago, Baskin said there was a key similarity between the two fires -- and this is when he got a tad emotional -- that nobody was hurt.

"I couldn't have been through it once, much less twice if anybody got hurt," Baskin said. "The rest of it can be replaced. It can be rebuilt and be bigger and better or whatever, but for me, that's the take home. Nobody got hurt."

Top photo: Bill Baskin, right, meeting with an insurance adjuster Monday afternoon.

Here's the slide show we published Friday morning of Thursday's fire:

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