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Volunteers avert danger at reservation fire

by jmaloni
Thu, Aug 11th 2011 09:00 am

by Susan Mikula Campbell

The cause of a fire that destroyed two businesses on the Tuscarora Nation early Tuesday morning is still under investigation.

The fire at the Mount Pleasant Native American Gift Shop and the Tuscarora Propane station at 2401 Saunders Settlement Road could have been much worse, according to officials, except for the quick work of volunteer firefighters from around the area.

Sanborn Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Tom Hoover, who was in charge of the scene, said flames were already coming through the roof of the two-story building that housed the two businesses when he arrived.

"It was working pretty good when we got there and spreading pretty fast," he said, adding that the main concern was keeping the nearby big propane tank cool. The burning building was close to the tank and the fire probably came within a few feet of it, Hoover said. "It could have gotten ugly."

The destroyed businesses are also located between two gas stations, Smokin Joes and Gail's Smoke Shop. Not only were firefighters able to prevent the fire from spreading there, but they also kept the Tuscarora Roofing Co. warehouse, located behind the fire scene, safe.

In addition to the Sanborn Fire Co. responding to the scene were Lewiston No. 2, Niagara Active Hose, Upper Mountain, Lewiston No. 1, Pekin, Shawnee, Bergholz and St. Johnsburg volunteer fire companies, the fire company from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and Tri Community Ambulance. Frontier, Ransomville, Youngstown, Cambria and Wendleville volunteer fire companies were on standby. No injuries were reported.

The fire call came in at about 12:45 a.m. It took about 40 minutes to knock down the fire, then there was overhaul and knocking down hot spots until nearly 6 a.m., Hoover said.

In his case, and for most of the other volunteers, it wasn't heading home to rest after the fire, but off to work regular jobs.

Hoover complimented his own fire crew as well as the crews from the surrounding companies.

"We've trained for this. We've done drills. When it's the real thing ... we don't get fires that often ... it gets the adrenalin going," he said.

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