BROADALBIN — A fire of undetermined origin destroyed the Meatland butcher shop at 9 Railroad St.Wednesday night.
Fulton County Fire Coordinator Steven Santa Maria said the fire resulted in a total loss of the building. He said investigators were on the scene Thursday looking for the cause of the fire. The New York state Office of Fire Prevention and Control has been named the lead agency for the investigation, with the Fulton County Fire Investigation Team assisting.
“They probably won’t have a cause today I don’t think. We started processing the scene today at 7:30 a.m.,” he said Thursday.
The call reporting a fire at the business was received by the Fulton County sheriff’s dispatch center at 7:41 p.m. Wednesday night.
Mario Cristaldi, who lives near Meatland, said he heard the fire alarms going off in the village, but didn’t realize the business, located a stone’s throw from his house, was on fire until a neighbor called him to tell him. He recorded 15 minutes of the blaze on his cellphone and posted it to Facebook.
“I looked outside and said ‘Holy mackerel!’ It was totally engulfed,” he said.
The Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Company responded to the fire with mutual aid from the Mayfield Fire Department, the Perth Volunteer Fire Department, the Berkshire Volunteer Fire Department and the Hagaman Volunteer Fire Company, with ambulance support provided by the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corp. The Galway Volunteer Fire Company was on standby to assist the other companies fighting the fire.
Officials said the fire was brought under control by about 11:30 p.m.
No one was working inside the buildings when the fire started, and no one was injured fighting the fire.
Santa Maria said fighting the fire at Meatland was challenging for two reasons: The manner in which the roof was constructed and the water supply in the village of Broadalbin required the use of the village’s pump system.
“The original building had a flat roof, and a truss style roof was placed over the top of it, and there was no easy access to get water into that area. That presented some challenges for us,” he said. “Once the fire got into the building it was held in there pretty good, that whole assembly area from rear to front.”
Santa Maria said it was a time-consuming process to run the water lines from the village hydrants to the fire.
“We were working off the hydrants initially, but then we quickly overcame the capabilities of the hydrant, so the pumps had to be turned on. It didn’t take very long, but we had to lay hose from quite a distance, and it was very labor intensive. Every time you get delayed by a minute, a fire typically doubles in size,” he said.
Meatland, which is both a wholesale and retail butcher shop, has operated for 40 years, and was selling approximately 20,000 pounds of meat every two weeks as of 2015.
Cristaldi said he’s loved being a customer of Meatland over the years.
“They had great meats there. That’s where we got all of our meat, and the prices were just absolutely phenomenal. This whole area went there; you’d have to go there at certain times or there’d be a line. It was so sad that this happened,” he said.
Meatland is owned by brothers Paul and Kevin Kisielis and was founded by their father, Bernard. The company is known for offering both over-the-counter meats as well as delivering meat door-to-door along 12 different routes within a 100-mile radius of the store.
Kevin Kisielis said the family hasn’t decided yet how it will proceed after the devastating fire.
“Right now we haven’t decided one way or another as far as rebuilding. Maybe in a few days I can give an answer one way or another, but right now our heads are spinning and we’re still in shock,” he said.
Meatland employs between 12 and 15 people.
All day and into the evening people drove down the narrow Railroad Street in Broadalbin to look at the burned building. Town resident Bob Wood was among them. Wood said he was a loyal Meatland customer.
“We’ve shopped here for the last 10 years. This is one of the mainstays of Broadalbin, certainly one of the more popular businesses,” he said.
Santa Maria said approximately 12 hours after the Meatland fire another fire broke out in Northville at Skip’s Service Station on Bridge Street at about 7:45 a.m., injuring a Northville Fire Department firefighter’s ears.
The injury happened when a barrel filled with liquid exploded because of the internal pressure caused by the heat of the fire. Santa Maria said the injury was to the firefighter’s ears from the sound of the explosion. Santa Maria said he was transported to Nathan Littauer Hospital for evaluation. He said he didn’t have the firefighter’s name or current condition.
The Northville Fire Department contained the fire damage to one of the service bays of the auto repair shop.
“They really did a good job holding the fire to one end of the building,” Santa Maria said. “The main fire was knocked down in about 30 minutes. One bay was totally destroyed, where the fire was. The rest of the building obviously suffered some smoke and heat damage, but no structural damage, but the big thing for a business is to be able to preserve their records, and computers, and in this case their inspection stickers and the Fire Department was able to keep the fire from spreading into that area, so those records were preserved.”