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Power outages keep firefighters busy pumping basements

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2013 at 6:25 pm

Help arrives from 6 Wyoming County fire companies

Photos by Tom Rivers – Albion Fire Chief Rocky Sidari, left, and firefighter Gary Rowley are outside 311 West Academy St., Albion, while the basement is pumped this evening. The Albion Fire Department responded to 64 calls by about 5 p.m., including many calls to pump basements.

Orleans County firefighters have been responding to calls since 2 a.m., nonstop requests to have basements pumped and tree limbs removed.

With thousands of residents still without power, firefighters expect they will continue to be busy, especially with basements filling with water because sump pumps aren’t working without electricity.

“Until we get the power back on we’re chasing cellars,” said Jesse Babcock, fire chief for the Barre Fire Company.

About two thirds of Barre has been without power.

Fallen branches, toppled trees and downed wires have littered much of the county.

“It looks like a war zone out there,” said Dan Morrow, a member of the Albion fire police.

He was out for hours trying to direct people away from dangerous spots with wires and limbs in the road.

“The worst part is people don’t use common sense,” he said about some of the motorists.

Albion Fire Department Captain Jared Hapemen, right, and his brother Jason pump out a basement on West Academy Street in Albion this evening. The department has been responding to calls since 2 a.m.

Albion was up to 64 calls at about 5 p.m. for pumped basements, tree limb removal and downed wires.

Orleans County has been hit particularly hard by the power outages with about half of the county losing electricity.

The state Office of Emergency Management activated mutual aid for Orleans, requesting assistance from firefighters from other counties. At about 4:30 p.m., a caravan of six fire trucks or rescue vehicles from Wyoming County arrived at the Albion fire hall.

Wyoming firefighters will be here until noon tomorrow responding to calls around county. They will relieve firefighters who have been responding to calls since the middle of the night.

The Wyoming departments were sent to Ridgeway, Barre, Albion and Holley.

William Dake, a Castile firefighter, rode down in the Perry fire truck. He is ready to spend the night and tomorrow morning in Orleans, responding to calls.

“This is what firefighters do, we help each other, ” he said.

Dake was Castile fire chief when a massive blaze broke out in the Castile village hall on Oct. 2, 2012. Firefighters from five counties and 50 fire companies responded to that fire.

“We’ve had people help us and it’s time for us to repay,” Dake said.

Firefighters brought six fire vehicles from Wyoming County, including this truck from the Harris Corners Fire Department, to assist Orleans County firefighters.