By Frank Rizzo
CALLICOON Quick action saved an historic building from a potentially damaging fire on Friday afternoon.
The Callicoon Fire Department got a call at 4:05 p.m. after smoke was spotted billowing from the mansard-roofed Zimmerman Building at 24 Upper Main St. (Lisa’s Autumn Inn) in Callicoon. Several minutes later Assistant Chief Willie Maxwell ventured into the basement as a hookup was made to the hydrant near the old firehouse just down the street.
Maxwell said within 10 minutes flames on both the basement and first floor of the building, which dates back to the 19th century, “were knocked down.” He speculated that the fire was electrical in origin.
Smoke, thick at times, continued to be visible as the fire went to two alarms and Hortonville, Jeffersonville and Lake Huntington also responded. In all, about 60 firefighters were on the scene, with hoses stretching across the railroad tracks and down to the Callicoon Creek near Lander’s Café.
Though additional water wasn’t ultimately needed, the responders were not taking any chances.
“Considering it’s an old building, with a ballon frame and everything’s dry, you’ve got to get in there quick [and]… you’ve got to be prepared for the worst,” said Maxwell, who was head of the department for much of the 2000s and was on charge that afternoon in the absence of Chief Mark Murphy.
By the time the firefighters finally left, it was about 7:30 p.m. and though the fire had long been contained, the necessity to make certain kept the volunteers there well after dark. Big spotlights bathed the building as well as the Western Hotel next door.
“Everybody did a great job,” said Maxwell. “Everything worked perfectly. We got in, took care of business and saved the building.”
In addition to the responding departments, Equinunk, PA, Youngsville and North Branch were on standby.
The Upper Delaware Ambulance Corps was also on standby.
Though vacant for yearsLisa’s Autumn Inn was its last well-known occupantthe building was sold last year through Matthew Freda Realty in Callicoon and the agency serves as a rental agent. The extent of the interior damage was unknown, although Maxwell did note that repairs will be necessary to fire-damaged floor areas and several structural beams.
Broker Tom Freda said, “Watching those firefighters operate, it was like clockwork… everybody knew what they were doing, and it was impressive to watch them come together.”