Major Fire Evacuates Schools and Injures Firefighter

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 4, 2010 at 6:14 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 4, 2010 at 6:14 PM EDT

SINCLAIRVILLE, NY (WKBW) -- Fire crews worked for much of the day to try and put out a fire that started in Vanson Brass Corporation on Sinclair Drive in the Village of Sinclairville around 9am Friday. "There was thick smoke," Jenna Robbins, a local resident who called 911, said.

24 departments and more than 150 firefighters helped battle the blaze. Two employees and an owner were evacuated from the building without injuries. But the intense flames continued and a firefighter was taken to the hospital. "One firefighter with minor injuries from the heat," Gerry Fire Department Chief Carl Fransen said. "At approximately 9:15am I pulled all the interior crews out, we went strictly defensive attack on it for the safety and well being for the firemen. The fire consumed the building in a matter of minutes."

Three area schools were also evacuated. "Cassadaga Valley Senior High School and Middle School, and the Sinclairville Elementary school," Chief Fransen said. "The superintendent had them evacuated with all parents notified the students were being sent home at 10:20am. We used an abundance of water from the Sinclairville water system and also I was very concerned with the heavy smoke conditions going toward {the} schools."

Across the street from the fire some houses filled with smoke. "We had the windows open in the front room... and all of a sudden I went up there and there was a whole bunch of smoke," area resident Robin Smith said.

"A lot of smoke did get in, we tried to shut the windows as quick as we could," another neighbor said.

One resident who is a former employee of Vanson Brass says it was always a great place to work. "I worked for them for 6 years," Diann Vervecken said. "They're very careful people, nice people to work with... and it's just a shame to see this happen."

The building was destroyed and will most likely have to be demolished. The business is mostly empty since it was recently merged with a company in Jamestown. "They do refinishing of brass material on different types of metals. They use to be run at a real large scale. They're down to just three employees now," Chief Fransen said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but one possibility may be some sparks created during some work in the building.

Sinclair Drive was closed for much of Friday from Route 60 to Route 380 and was expected to reopen by late Friday evening.