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Fred Stabbert III | Democrat

A STUNNED KEVIN McElroy checks out the damage at his eatery, 27 Main St. Pizzeria in downtown Callicoon, when an early-morning fire broke out on Saturday in a flower box attached to the front of the building.

Quick Action Averts Fire Disaster

By Fred Stabbert III
CALLICOON — May 15, 2007 — The residents of the hamlet of Callicoon are certainly lucky that Frankie Hahn is an early riser.
Hahn, who’s been a Callicoon volunteer fireman for more than four decades, was taking his usual drive down Main St. on Saturday morning – at 5:45 a.m. – when he saw flames licking up out of a flower box in front of 27 Main St. Pizzeria.
“I rounded the corner and there were flames and smoke coming out of the building,” he said. “I backed my truck back up to the firehouse and started getting the pumper out.”
Soon the fire whistles in Callicoon and Hortonville were breaking the silence of a peaceful spring morning.
By 6 a.m., nearly 35 firemen and five fire trucks from the two departments were at the scene.
Callicoon Chief Willie Maxwell said the fire had already burned through the flower box and the front wall of the pizzeria before firemen could get it under control by cutting it off the building.
“My guys and Hortonville did a great job,” he said. “We had all our equipment out and men were there within 5 or 10 minutes.
“The fire did get inside a little but we knocked it down quickly,” Maxwell said. “There was no extension to the second floor or basement.
“It’s a good thing Frankie never sleeps,” Maxwell said. “Another 5 or 10 minutes and it would have been another story.”
Kevin McElroy, 27 Main St. Pizzeria’s proprietor, said he got a phone call almost immediately when the fire alarm blew.
“I looked out my window and didn’t see any flames,” he said.
But once he got down to the building he saw what damage had occurred.
Several onlookers at the scene speculated that a smoldering cigarette from the night before could have finally burned through the flower box and ignited the wall.
No exact cause has yet been determined and the fire is still under investigation, according to Maxwell.
The New York State Police, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Dept. and Upper Delaware Ambulance Corps all responded.
McElroy’s brother, Justin, and father, Jim, were busy soon after firemen gave them the go-ahead, replacing the damaged window and wall.
By noon Saturday patrons were enjoying lunch inside the popular Main St. eatery.
“They saved us again,” a relieved Tom Freda, who owns Freda Real Estate, just a few doors down the street, said Saturday morning. “The volunteer firemen are a bunch of heroes.”

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