FREWSBURG - A space heater is believed to have sparked a fire that destroyed a Frewsburg business Sunday morning.
Several fire departments were alerted just after 10 a.m. to Hallenbeck Antiques, 30 W. Main St., for a report of a structure fire. The building was heavily damaged in the blaze and may require demolition, according to the Chautauqua County Fire Investigation Team.
"The fire started in the back and worked its way up to the front," said investigator Rich Telford. "The roof sustained a lot of damage, and we don't know at this time if the building can be saved."
Ellis Hallenbeck, owner of Hallenbeck Antiques, talks on his cellphone Sunday after an accidental fire destroyed his business.
P-J photos by Eric Tichy
Telford said the blaze likely was caused by a space heater in a back room inside the business. It's unclear if the heater malfunctioned or if nearby combustible material caught fire as a result, he said.
"We are ruling this as accidental," said Telford, who was unable to provide a damage estimate due to contents within the building.
Ellis Hallenbeck, owner of the antique business for two years, said he noticed smoke coming from the structure early Sunday and rushed over. The Frewsburg resident also operates an estate sale business on West Main Street.
"I opened the front door and saw nothing but smoke," Hallenbeck said. "I kicked in the other door and nothing but smoke poured out."
He added: "I don't know what I am going to do. I've never seen anything like it."
Firefighters from Frewsburg, Kiantone, Lakewood, Falconer, Kennedy and Busti responded to the fire. Crews were on scene for more than three hours.
Fire investigators were sifting through debris until 3:30 p.m. No injuries were reported.