POMFRET - Massive clouds of black smoke filled the sky Monday afternoon along Route 60 near Webster Road in Pomfret as at least two of Hills Trucking buildings caught fire and burned.
Fire departments from the surrounding area battled the blaze, hampered in their efforts by a lack of immediately available water. Tanker trucks were busy refilling, emptying their loads and then returning for more water.
A Webster Road pond was being used to fill the tankers while a lengthy stretch of hose was being put into place to help. A series of small explosions were heard coming from the buildings as the blaze intensified. During one of the explosions, a smaller metal tank was propelled to an area adjacent to where some fire trucks and firefighters were set up.
Photo by Gib Snyder
Traffic on Route 60 was being redirected, with vehicles in lengthy lines several times.
Fredonia Fire Department Chief Derek Jordan was in charge of the scene and described what happened.
"We responded to a report of a tractor-trailer fire, the tractor-trailer being inside a building at Hills Trucking," Jordan began. "When we got on the scene the building was fully engulfed. We had the fire under control in about two hours. Between the vehicle tires and gases that were inside the buildings the heat was tremendous. My initial report was about 200 tires. I think it was more about 150 tires I was told were stored inside the building along with acetylene gases, propane tanks and oils."
Jordan said hazmat was called.
"There was unknown chemicals inside one of the structures. We wanted to just bring hazmat up as a precaution," he explained.
Departments seen at the fire included the city of Dunkirk, East and West Town of Dunkirk, Fredonia, Sheridan, Sunset Bay, Hanover, Cassadaga, Stockton and Chautauqua County Emergency Services.