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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fire Causes $1 Million in Damage

A Wednesday night fire caused approximately $1 million damage to the structure and the contents of a two-story commercial building housing multiple retail businesses in Snyder.

According to Amherst police, the fire originated at Initially Yours, 4553 Main St. at Bernhardt Drive, at approximately 8 p.m.

Snyder firefighters were first to respond to the scene and discovered massive flames spilling from the front windows of Initially Yours, a specialty gift shop.

“There was quite a bit of fire showing when we got there,” said Snyder Fire Assistant Chief Paul Griebner. “There were thankfully no people inside the building.”

He said the fire’s close proximity to the fire hall — located on the same block at 4531 Main St. — helped firefighters in promptly extinguishing the blaze.

“We were so close to the fire hall that we could get there quickly to put water on it,” Griebner said.

He said, however, that on a night when temperatures were the coldest of the season at 17 degrees, the bitter air slightly hampered their efforts.

“It adds an extra dimension to when it’s that cold,” Griebner said. “You have to worry about the water lines freezing.”

Griebner said that although the building was severely damaged by smoke and water and it is devastating for the business owners, he was thankful no one was severely injured and the fire was quickly brought under control. A firefighter sustained a minor injury and was treated at the scene.

‘In my opinion, it could have been worse,” he said. “It could have spread to other areas of the building.”

A crew from Main Transit Fire Department assisted Snyder firefighters, as Eggertsville Hose Company was on standby at Snyder’s fire hall.

Griebner commended all of the firefighters at the scene as well as Amherst police for assisting with traffic control.

He said the cause of the fire is still undetermined at this point, and Amherst police are continuing the investigation.

As investigation progresses, business owners are beginning to sift through the rubble left behind from the fire.

In addition to Initially Yours, the building housed multiple businesses, including The Fahey Group, VS Jewelers, Bellezia Tobacco Shop, Have Ewe Any Wool Yarn Shop, Salon Le Beau, Homestead Financial Services and the Erie County legislative office of Thomas Loughran, whose jurisdiction includes south Amherst.

Immediately next door to the building is the legislator’s restaurant, Loughran’s, at 4543 Main St.

“We cleared the restaurant when we saw that the fire had started because the flames were so intense,” Loughran said.

He said that although his business is located within several feet of the commercial building, there was no damage to the restaurant. Loughran’s legislative office, however, sustained smoke damage and is currently closed.

“I think it really could have been worse,” he said. “I feel very fortunate that the firefighters were able to get the fire out so quickly.”

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