By Eli Ruiz
LOCH SHELDRAKE Wednesday marked the closing of the temporary shelter for the displaced Grandview Palace residents stemming from Saturday night’s devastating fire.
The residents, many of whom held local jobs, were being sheltered at the Paul Gerry Field House at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, just a stone’s throw from where the fire took place.
Still, the investigation into the huge blaze at the former Brown’s hotel which has since been officially condemned as well as the massive relief response from the community, moves forward.
“As yet, no cause has been determined… we’re still actively working on it,” said Sullivan County Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic.
“Due to all of the debris, cracks in parts of the foundation and all of the steel left behind, it’s quite a dangerous endeavor,” continued Martinkovic.
Involved in the investigation are the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s investigative arm, the Fallsburg Police, among others.
Martinkovic said, “we have no reason to believe that this was suspicious in any way, but for the sake of the displaced who, of course, have lots of questions we owe it to them to at least get to the bottom of this.
“I do though, think it’s great that I can report to you today, that not one person from the Grandview is missing or unaccounted for… this really could have been so much worse,” he continued.
Jim Kaufman, Hurleyville Fire Department Chief, and the man in charge of the site since the blaze started last Saturday evening, said, “due to all of the rekindles, we just haven’t been able to really get into it yet.
“We had Loch Sheldrake, Neversink and Hurleyville in yesterday a few times to put water on the rekindles.
“Until this thing is completely put out, it’s gonna be tough to make a final determination on the cause… it’s very, very frustrating for us,” continued Kaufman.
On the continuing relief efforts, Kaufman said, “A couple of fundraisers are currently in the planning stages to help these people [the displaced Grandview residents] regain at least some of what they’ve lost… I mean, these folks lost absolutely everything they had… they were lucky to get out of there with the shirts on their backs.”
For anyone interested in helping with the relief efforts: Saturday April 21, at 10 am. behind Cohen’s Bakery in Monticello the Monticello Booster Club will be holding a Barbecue with a live D.J. on hand.
There will also be a “Battle of the Bands,” as well as a large bake sale.
For more information on this fundraising event, please go to www.monticelloboosterclub.com or call Brian Stickle at (845)- 807-3547.
On Monday, April 23, Risa Foster and the “Make a Difference Day Committee” will be holding a 50/50 raffle and bake sale benefit at an “all-day” event at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Woodbourne.
May 19, at Hanofee Park in Liberty, Ann Mir, with NV Health in Liberty in conjunction with the Glen Wild Animal Rescue, will have a live D.J. and will be collecting donations and goods to benefit the Grandview’s displaced.
Kaufman went on to say, “I just want to thank each and every fire, police, EMS and Forest Ranger for their invaluable assistance.
“These folks are truly the best at what they do and without their help, I don’t believe the outcome would have been what it was,” he said."
Kaufman continued, “I also want to thank Sam’s Service Station in Liberty for the two 39-gallon fuel trucks they sent. I also want to thank Ultra Power in Monticello for the diesel fuel… with their help, we were able to keep all of our trucks fueled-up and we were able to continue dousing the blaze.
“Prestige Towing in Monticello had a large part in getting all the excavating equipment out to the scene, so a big thank you to them as well.
"As incident commander it’s been difficult to get all of the important information to everyone who needs it, so I’d like to personally thank all of the operation leaders for those helped with this endeavor… each and every one of them was integral in the success of this huge endeavor,” explained Kaufman.
“I’m just amazed at how our entire county has mobilized as one team to help their fellow citizens in need… the response from the community has been just overwhelming.”
A special meeting will be held on Monday, April 23 at Fallsburg Town Court at 6:30 pm regarding the condemnation of the Grandview Palace structure. The meeting is open to the public.
The Town Board will be meeting at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall.