SOUTHPORT, N.Y. (WETM) – One man died as a result of a serious structure fire in the Town of Southport Tuesday afternoon that sent smoke billowing across Elmira’s southside.
The Chemung County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that 55-year-old Thomas Byrnes, who runs TJ’S Ultimate Auto Repair, was injured in the fire and later died after being flown to Upstate Medical’s burn unit in Syracuse.
The fire broke out on the campus of Southern Tier Commerce Center (unaffiliated with TJ’s Ultimate Auto) on South Main Street around 4:07 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office said. The news release said that when officers arrived, they found Byrnes outside, conscious and alert with burns covering most of his body. Another worker on the property was with Byrnes while they waited for EMS.
The fire is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, the NYS office of Fire Prevention and Control, and the Chemung County Fire COordinator’s Office.
During the blaze, rooftop cameras caught images of black smoke pouring into the sky near Elmira High School. A reporter at the scene said a truck parked in the lot was also severely burned.
Multiple departments and agencies responded to the scene, including Southport Volunteer, Elmira City, Pine City, Webb Mills, Wellsburg, Elmira Heights, Elmira Police, NYSP, Chemung County Sheriff’s Office, Erway Ambulance, and Guthrie Air.