Story and Photos by Karen Carr Keefe
April 3 was another tough day for members of the Niagara Sailing Club.
A demolition crew came in and pulled down what little remained of the club that burned March 20 in a fire of unknown origin.
Big equipment rolled in and Regional Environmental Demolition Inc. finished off the structure as members and officers dropped by to check on the operation. National Fuel stood by to resolve issues in the wake of the mutual aid blaze that ravaged the structure at 3619 E. River Road.
The Grand Island Fire Co. had encountered heavy smoke and flames engulfing the building when they responded at 3:35 p.m. that Saturday. Aided by firefighters from Sheridan Park and Kenmore volunteer fire departments, as well as the City of Tonawanda Fire Department, the blaze was brought under control at 4 p.m.
Damage was estimated at $200,000 to the structure and $100,000 to the contents. The club was founded in 1934.
The flag, or burgee, from the Niagara Sailing Club was saved from the fire that ravaged the Niagara Sailing Club on March 20.
Commodore Kevin Labin said on the day of the fire that the facility would be rebuilt and once again welcome its nearly 100 members.
Two of those members, father and son, Thomas and Eric Volk, were there to witness the demolition.
Eric Volk of Grand Island, has been a member of the sailing club for just under one year. He said on April 3, he came to the site after the fire was extinguished. “I was coming from having lunch in Buffalo and I saw the plumes of smoke and I just followed them over here and was immediately heartbroken. Just tragic – absolutely tragic. It’s a good social club. We got the pool, we got the docks. It’s just a great place, great people here. It’s just very sad.”
He reaffirmed the club’s resolve to rebuild.
“Absolutely. We’re in the process of going through the insurance, planning fundraisers. We do have a current fundraiser online. You can go through our Niagara Sailing Club website to find out where to donate,” he said.
The website is https://givebutter.com/d8uvTC#.
The goal is to raise $40,000 to help members rebuild the club, and $1,755 has been raised so far. The website states: “We humbly ask for your consideration in a donation of any size to help our club rise from the ashes and build a clubhouse for future generations to come.”
Volk said the club will be doing some fundraising events over the summer, as well.