By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO April 5, 2002 On Tuesday, an early evening fire severely damaged the Ace Hunting Club building on Sackett Lake Road.
There were flames showing from two sides of the right wing of the building, and smoke was coming out of the entire structure when we arrived, said Brian Soller, chief of the Monticello Fire Department.
The call was received by the local fire department from the Sullivan County 911 Center at 7:36 p.m. and was declared under control at 10:26 p.m.
Approximately 50 firefighters battled the blaze, knocking it down in record time. According to Soller, the suspicious fire broke out during his departments regularly scheduled meeting night, a factor that aided in the rapid response to the scene.
We had a lot of guys sitting in the firehouse, so we got a really good initial response, he said. We were able to get in there really quick and knock it down. . . . If it had been later in the night, we might not have made out so well.
Responding fire departments included Monticello, Forestburgh, Kauneonga Lake, Rock Hill and Smallwood/Mongaup Valley. Fallsburg was on stand-by status at Monticello. Law enforcement included New York State Police and Monticello Police.
Several firefighters risked their lives climbing up on the roof to ventilate it over the flames below. They used special chainsaws to cut holes in the roof before decending into the interior with attack lines.
The guys made a good interior attack on that right side, and we were able to contain it there, said Soller.
Based on evidence at the scene, the fire is under active investigation by the NYSP and the Sullivan County Fire Determiners Office.
This fire is definitely suspicious in origin, added Chief Soller.