Lockport firefighters reflect on massive fire 1 week later

Posted at 11:43 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-20 07:53:58-04

"It absolutely is the biggest fire I've ever been to by far," said South Lockport Volunteer Fire Company Chief Ben Ripson. "It dwarfs anything that I've personally been to."

Ripson is referring to the blaze that tore the HTI recycling plant in Lockport last week.

"It definitely was a hectic first few hours," said Ripson. "I was there for 21 hours straight, after my normal day at work."

Firefighter Eric Belser from Wright's Corners was there for six hours. He had just returned from vacation.

"It was like somebody had dropped bombs on the place because it was just wrecks of buildings," said Belser.

According to Lockport Fire Chief Patrick Brady, about 57 volunteer companies were on the scene. This included Courtney Dysarb from Cambria Fire.

"This is the largest I've seen," said Dysarb. "It took a lot of manpower, a lot of companies, a lot of equipment."

Also, a lot of water. Ripson said South Lockport was at the scene for 42 continuous hours.

"We estimate that we were pumping water continuously for 36 of those hours," said Ripson.

"Our two trucks pumped about half a million gallons out of the Canal," said Bill Fisher, Chief of Terry's Corner Volunteer Fire Company.

Due to their heroic acts which saved lives, homes, and businesses, the Lockport community joined forces Thursday evening to say thank you.

"The community understands what we're here for and they appreciate it," said Ripson. "At the end of the day that's all we need to come back and do this again."

Organizer of event Kathy O'Keefe and owner of Windsor Village, where the event took place, said 12 local businesses pitched in for a thank you picnic. A wonderful gesture, for real life heroes.