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FREDONIA: Response a start to village incident

After learning the troubling news that a village employee was allegedly responsible for the fire that occurred Monday afternoon at Heenan’s Irish Pub, Fredonia officials did not shy away from addressing the issue. In fact, officials took the initiative by issuing a statement to this newspaper as well as WDOE-AM and FM.

“The heat source was determined to be a flame torch used to burn grass and weeds in the sidewalk,” said the statement, distributed by Mayor Doug Essek. “Similar to other municipalities in the state, the village utilizes hand torches to eradicate weeds in village-owned sidewalks. The village is currently investigating the use of the flame torch by village employees, along with its policies and protocols for the use of such tools in the maintenance of village sidewalks and areas. The village trustees and mayor are grateful for the immediate response from the Fire Department and support from the Chautauqua County Fire Investigation Team.”

That quick response is to be commended. However, village officials — and employees — have some serious questions that need to be answered considering the circumstances.

First and foremost, the process of using a flame torch to eradicate weeds needs to end immediately — especially when we’re facing drought conditions. Second, how is the village planning to help Heenan’s rebuild — and can it do anything to make it easier?

What happened was unfortunate. Residents here will likely forgive the circumstances. But they definitely won’t forget.

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