On a frigid Wednesday night in downtown Fredonia, firefighters preserved one of the village's oldest structures.
Just after 7 p.m., crews responded to a fire located at 51 West Main Street in an apartment directly above BJ's.
Soon after arrival, the fire fully engulfed the apartment. Firefighters entered the building with a hose line and went to work.
According to 1st Assistant Fire Chief Derek Jordan, when firefighters entered the apartment, the entire wall near the window was ablaze.
"The fire began on the second floor and it was stopped there. Basically on the third floor there is just some smoke damage," 2nd Assistant Fire Chief Kurt Maytum said.
Maytum said the cause of the fire was unknown and will be investigated by the Fire Investigation Team.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
The Village of Fredonia Fire Department responded to a fire in an apartment at 51 West Main Street just after 7 p.m. Wednesday. The fire was contained to the front apartment and no injuries were reported.
The occupant of the apartment said everyone made it out safely.Co-owner of the building along with his brothers, Jack Coughlin said the building is insured and that it seemed as though only the front apartment was damaged by fire.
Crews occupied much of Route 20 in front of the building for a few hours as cleanup continued.
"We used the assistance of University Police and Dunkirk Police, along with the State Police and Sheriffs Department, and tried to push people out of the downtown district," Fredonia Chief of Police Brad Meyer said of traffic control. "At Main and Water, we shut the road down, and up top at Seymour and Chestnut, we shut the road down."
The Village Department of Public Works fortunately had a crew working second shift Wednesday as extra hands for barricades were needed, as well as a crew to dump salt on the roads.
Because temperatures were in the teens, water from hose lines and fire trucks was freezing minutes after being on the ground.
"I would urge everyone to try and resist temptation to come down and gawk and really avoid this section until we can get it mopped up and the fire crews out of here," Meyers added.
Fredonia Fire Department Engine 12, Tower 18, Rescue 71 and Engine 10 all responded to the fire.
"We had a lot of good support from our neighbors in Dunkirk with a ladder truck and Engine 3 standby at headquarters," Maytum added.
It was unknown how much water damage BJ's received as a result of the extinguishing of the fire.
BJ's is one of the longest-running businesses in the village of Fredonia. AJ Privateer, grandfather of Rod Pennica, began a tavern in the 1930s called the Eagle Cafe on East Main Street in the vicinity of Heenan's. His nickname was 'blackjack' and the tavern became known as 'blackjacks' and later shortened to BJ's. The business was sold to his nephew, Anthony Patti who moved BJ's to its current location and eventually sold it to its current owner.
Coughlin's Pub, two doors down from the fire, was able to continue serving customers throughout the evening.
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