Thanksgiving eve fire provides fodder for gratitude

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 11/28/20

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Michael Popolillo, the father, is thankful. He is thankful for his wife, for his twin boys, their families and for his grandchildren.

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Thanksgiving eve fire provides fodder for gratitude

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Michael Popolillo, the father, is thankful. He is thankful for his wife, for his twin boys, their families and for his grandchildren. He is especially thankful for the quick and efficient manner that the Lake Huntington Vol. Fire Department responded to the structure fire at American Electric’s office plant on Nearing Road on Thanksgiving eve.  Popolillo has operated an electrical contracting business out of that office for the last 25 years.

His son, Mike, who with his twin brother Brian run the day-to-day operations, heard the alarm on the building shortly after 5:30 p.m. when he was driving by on his way to pick up his children. He called 911 as smoke poured out of the second-story windows of the large steel-framed building in proximity to the building’s woodstove.

The Lake Huntington Fire Department arrived on the scene within minutes and quickly and efficiently began to strategize containing the fire. They called in White Lake Volunteer Fire Department for their interior firefighters and tanker, Callicoon Volunteer Fire Department for their ladder truck, and Lava and Kenoza Lake fire departments for additional tankers.   They were joined by personnel from the Jeffersonville Volunteer Fire Department, who were originally on standby. Kauneonga Lake was on standby for White Lake and Hortonville was on standby for Callicoon.

“Thank God for the fire departments. They did their thing,” Michael Popolillo said. “Unbelievable.”

“We were all very lucky,” he said, as the building contained welding equipment and gas cylinder tanks. Thankfully, he said, they were on the far side of the building, adding that the fire departments were incredibly efficient and coordinated in containing the blaze.

According to Jason Kraack, Lake Huntington assistant chief,  early discovery of the fire was essential to getting the blaze under control.  By 8:30 p.m., the firefighters had extinguished the fire. As to the possible hazards, Kraack said the fire departments took precautions and minimized risks as they went putting the fire out. 

“We want people to know that we’re working,” son Mike said. “We don’t have a choice. We’re the owners. There is no unemployment.”

“We lost our offices, and some personal mementos, but no one got injured. We have been here for 25 years and we will rebuild. There is no failure here,” his father replied.

As to the fate of the steel building, by Friday morning they had already met with the insurance adjuster. “We had good coverage,” he said. “We are at peace with it.”

Illustrating his point, he pointed to a large pipe on the side of the building and said to his son, “Don’t we need that for our job on Monday? Let’s get it in the truck.”

Here's a video of the blaze.

Here's a link to American Electric's message on Facebook

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