Hornell fire site cleanup underway

Corning Bureau

HORNELL, NY (WETM) – Clean up continues today in Hornell as large trucks clear the debris of what is left of the devastating November fire.

Bud Burdette from Hornell Code Enforcement explains the process so far.

“The contractor the last couple of days has been separating the debris from the foundations, putting it into a pile so that they can get it out of here on Wednesday,” Burdette said. “Now the contractor is filling the basements with stones so that they can have the trucks tomorrow coming in from the county to be able to be filled.”

On Feb. 6, city and county leaders in Hornell laid out a three-year plan to revitalize Preston Ave.

According to Hornell Mayor John Buckley, the debris removal is being handled by the homeowners, who have all agreed to turn the property over to the city. The city will not be paying for the land, but will be taking over the deeds.

Steuben County has agreed to waive the hauling fees for the debris, and while there is no deadline to remove the rubble, there is a “sense of urgency” to clean the block up.

Once the debris is cleared, the city will lay down topsoil and make it a “green space” until the first home is finished.

BOCES students will begin building the home in the fall of 2020 and hope to have the first two-story unit ready by 2021. Students will then built a second two-story home on the property.

Once the homes are complete, the city will sell the homes at what it cost BOCES to build them and give the money back to BOCES.

BOCES students have already built nine homes in the area and are working on their tenth.

Police and fire officials say no cause for the fire was determined, and it may never be known at this point. A propane tank was found on the property and it may have exacerbated the situation.

The American Red Cross, Finger Lakes Chapter assisted more than 20 people after seven homes were destroyed on Nov. 17, 2019, in the Maple City. Miraculously, no residents were hurt and the community was able to come together to help those impacted.

Fire departments from Arkport, Canisteo, and Fremont provided mutual aid after the first crews thought they were responding to just one structure fire, not multiple.

One firefighter described the heat of his jacket melting on his skin. Another called it a “once in a lifetime fire.” The heat was so intense that some of their equipment began to melt.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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