Written by Mayor Paul Ehrbar Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
The horrific fire that took place on Willis Avenue had the potential of being much more destructive than it was. Five stores were destroyed in the catastrophe, yet due to the heroic efforts demonstrated by both the Williston Park firemen and the members of the surrounding districts the fire was contained and controlled within the confines of five buildings. Without the expertise and firematic efforts, the fire could have easily spread both in the business district and the residential area. The fire, which began around 2:45 a.m., which was brought under control fairly rapidly, continued to smolder and burn well into the daylight hours.
Remarkably, it is my understanding that there was only a minor injury to one firefighter. The intensity of the fire coupled with the magnitude of the blaze could have easily led to a number of injuries.
Chief Gary Smithing and Assistant Chief Rich Sais oversaw the operation from beginning to end. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the residents of Williston Park, I thank all those firemen who were involved in this event.
While the firemen dealt with the actual fire, a number of individuals working at the scene were instrumental in ensuring, as best as possible, that the area remained as safe as possible. Public Works Superintendent Keith Bunnell was on scene and at the water plant to monitor water flow/water pressure. His work crews assisted whenever needed during the course of the day.
Bunnell remained on site well into the evening hours. Building Inspector Kerry Collins was on the scene early and remained at the site well past 11 p.m. to ensure that the area was made as safe as possible in view of the dangerous conditions created by the fire.
Thanks go out to residents and business owners who provided support during the fire and after. Hacks Deli, Gino’ Pizzeria and Sangria 71 provided food and water to those working the fire.
This event has greatly impacted five business and four property owners. The village has been working with all in hopes of allowing these business owners to move forward as quickly as possible.
A disaster of this type will take time to return the area to a normal state but the village will provide direction and assistance whenever possible.
I would like to thank all the residents who live on or around Stratford Avenue and Princeton Street for their understanding and patience during the extended road repaving of these roads. The project is mostly complete.
The contractor is now required to correct any deficiencies as listed in a village “punch list.” It is hoped that this work will happen quickly although sod/grass planting needs to wait until cooler weather.
Enjoy the rest of the summer and as always, I ask all to drive safely.