Holley fire ruled accidental, cause not determined

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dave Smith of the Holley Fire Department, a past chief of Fancher-Hulberton-Murray, stands on a fire truck on Sunday night while a large house burns at 46 West Albion St.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 January 2020 at 10:53 am

HOLLEY – Fire investigators have been sifting through the rubble from a massive fire Sunday night at a 4,000-square-foot house at 46 West Albion St.

The fire has been ruled accidental but investigators haven’t been able to determine the cause, said Justin Niederhofer, one of the county fire investigators.

Investigators say they believe the fire started in the kitchen at one of the four apartments. The fire caused extensive damage to the building.

“When the damage is that severe the cause of a fire is often undetermined because there is so much damage and you can’t rule things out,” Niederhofer said this morning.

The Orleans County Highway Department had an operator on site with an excavator on Monday, slowly lifting and moving debris to help investigators try to pinpoint a cause in the fire.

Niederhofer said the investigators have more interviews to do, and they will be looking at photos from early in the fire at the back side of the house to see if those images offer clues to what caused the big blaze.

Niederhofer and Cole Hardenbrook, two county fire investigators, were at the site on Monday with three fire investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

The fire displaced 11 residents, including three elementary school children, a high school senior and a baby.

The house was built in 1880 and is owned by Stanley Passarell. Tax records show it is assessed for $105,800 and lists the address as 1 South Main St., which is the corner of routes 237 and 31.

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