Firefighters looking for cause of massive fire in Ovid

Created: 03/19/2014 6:33 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

Firefighters were back on the scene of the major fire that destroyed part of a local village. The fast moving flames damaged several buildings at the main downtown intersection in Ovid, Seneca County. On Wednesday, state and county fire investigators worked to pinpoint the cause.

The real work of trying to figure out what started the massive fire has just begun, but the focus for investigators appears to be in the rear of the building.

It took hours to bring the fire under control, ruining two restaurants, the town assessor's office and an apartment building that housed four families.

On Wednesday, investigators were on the scene, combing through the charred wreckage that was left behind.

Charles McCann, Seneca County Fire Coordinator, said, "We've talked to several of the witnesses and we have their statements and that's all part of factoring in where we're going with this."      

As they tried to figure out what started the fire, they seemed to have pinpointed its origin. Investigators spent much of their time looking at the rear of the Italian restaurant.

McCann said, "We believe it started outside the building, but still that's where we're focusing our investigation to look there."

The task of figuring out the cause was made that much more difficult as a result of propane tanks which caused the flames to spread more rapidly. 

Chief Bill Palmer, Ovid Fire Chief, said, "The theory is the tanks got pre-heated and the vents let loose on them, which they're supposed to do. That ignited the gas, so then you've got like a blowtorch effect."

The buildings are more than 100 years old and make up much of the identity of the village's downtown. The fire chief says, at this point, it looks like at least three of the buildings will have to be demolished. 

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