MANSFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) - Massive flames destroyed brand new equipment at a highway barn in Cattaraugus County, and the damage could exceed a million dollars.
Though the beautiful, small Town of Mansfield was just dealt a harsh blow Sunday night, the Town Supervisor is surprisingly calm. Robert Keis explains the town is well-insured, debt free and says it is lucky the fire wasn't worse.
Ironically, it was the fire chief who first noticed the flames while driving home from Fall Fest in Ellicottville with his wife. It took more than 100 firefighters, 11 volunteer fire companies, 13 tankers and three-and-a-half hours to extinguish the blaze.
Keis said, "It was a disaster in some ways, but it wasn't devastating. We're still going to be functional, and like I said, everybody's fine."
No one was hurt fighting the flames. And Keis says if the sky dumped snow tomorrow, they'd be ready to clear it.
Two snowplows were lost in the fire, but the town has two more snowplows in a back building that was untouched by fire. And they already have a plan to make it through the winter.
"We have insurance, so I'm sure by the hard part of winter we'll have a couple more plow trucks in here," Keis said.
A brand new loader the town had just traded for was also lost. But they already have the old one back.
Keis said, "They still had it on the lot, so they brought that back to us. And that's only a year old.
And if the insurance payout isn't enough to replace the lost equipment, Mansfield has this going for it: the town is completely debt-free.
"So if we end up borrowing a little money to buy a couple pieces of equipment after the insurance settlement, we'll be good," Keis said.
All at a minimal cost to local taxpayers. Cattaraugus County and other communities have already offered equipment and help.
Keis says he's very thankful for the generosity, but says, "I'm thinking we've got enough time yet, so we'll probably be okay."
The Town Supervisor says the one thing that might not get done before winter is replacing the building that burned. And he's looking into making sure the new one has fire walls to prevent any future fires from spreading.
The investigation into what caused the fire continued.
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