by Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer, Grand Island Fire Co.
Shortly before 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, Grand Island Fire Co. firefighters responded to a large fire in a garage area discovered by wastewater plant operator Ken Kinderman at 3500 Baseline Road. Kinderman reported heavy black smoke in the converted filter building.
Deputy Fire Chief Matt Osinski stated that engine No. 4, engine No. 5 and ladder truck No. 6 supported fire suppression crews, who had the fire under control 11 minutes after the initial attack was commenced. The entire operation took approximately 25 minutes from the actual time of alarm until the fire was extinguished and overhaul began.
GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger confirmed that the cause of the fire appeared to be improper disposal of refuse, including oily rags, which ignited (possible spontaneous combustion) in a plastic garbage container next to a desk and spread upward to an adjoining wall. Total damage was estimated at $15,000 to the structure and an additional $5,000 to the contents. Several parked vehicles escaped fire damage and were later driven out of the damaged building by plant employees. Chief Operator Ian James indicated that plant operations continued with no major disruption, although electrical and building repairs are now under way.
Meanwhile, a Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Department Firefighter Assist and Search Team was dispatched to the scene as a safety precaution, and a City of Tonawanda mutual aid crew remained on standby at GIFC fire headquarters until services were no longer needed.
All participating units returned service by 7:19 p.m., according to Osinski.