Dan Hust | Democrat
Youngsville FD firefighters pull the hoses behind the Will Hardware building as the fire rages in the Hoos Building, separated by the Little Beaverkill. Firefighters eventually had to descend to the creek level to better attack the conflagration.
Explosion, fire devastate Hoos building
Story by Ed Townsend
LIVINGSTON MANOR A devastating fire, possibly fueled by propane, swept through the historic Hoos Building in Livingston Manor Tuesday afternoon, destroying four local businesses located at the intersection of Main and Pearl Streets.
Several bystanders at the scene of the fire said they heard an explosion around 3:30 p.m. and shortly after that the left side of the building housing the Moose-Be-Morning Coffee Co. Cafe was engulfed in flames.
Livingston Manor firefighters quickly arrived at the scene from the nearby Hoos Co. firehouse and noted, “it was cooking when we got here.”
Smoke from the fire was reportedly seen from as far away as Monticello.
Ultimately, Manor was joined by fire departments from Liberty, Roscoe, Youngsville, White Sulphur Springs (standby) and Callicoon Center (standby), plus the Manor ambulance corps, MobileMedic, the Sheriff’s Office and the State Police.
Together, they extinguished both the main blaze and small fires in neighboring buildings, likely started by flying, burning debris.
Neighboring structures were saved, but the 110-year-old Hoos Building the heart of downtown Manor was a complete loss.
Liberty firefighters used their ladder truck to get above the blazing building.
A large contingent of police secured the fire scene and kept telling people to get at least 100 yards away from the building. They were very much aware of a large propane tank located in the rear of the building and when it exploded it shook buildings several blocks away.
The explosion sent a large heavy metal lid high in the air and it landed near the front sidewalk of the Sunoco Gas Station some 50 to 60 yards across the street. EMS personnel at the scene indicated it would have seriously injured anyone it might have hit.
The historic Hoos Building was estimated by its present owner Barry Foster to be over 100 years old and was formerly owned by Odie Hoos’ father and then by Odie and his brother Fred. At one time Alice Hoos ran the famous Hoos Bakery where they featured “The best coffee crumb cake made.”
For years, Odie Hoos operated a popular luncheonette in the part of the building that presently housed the Lazy Beagle Pub & Grill.
Barry Foster has owned the building for the past eight years. He owned and operated the Hot Corner Sports Collectibles, which contained a considerable amount of baseball and sports memorabilia.
Tenants in the building also included the Willow and Brown clothing and housewares shop.
Former Town of Rockland Supervisor Lee Siegel was at the scene and said, “This is a tremendous loss for our community.”
It was also reported at the scene that a propane delivery had been made earlier in the day and that the operators of the Coffee Cafe usually close up for the day around 2 p.m.
No one was occupying any of the business locations at the time of the fire.
Livingston Manor Fire Chief Dan Roser has indicated that the building is “destroyed” and added that thankfully, no one was inside when the blasts occurred, and only one firefighter was injured (a minor eye injury, which did not prevent him from continuing to fight the fire).
Sullivan County Emergency Services Commissioner Richard Martinkovic pointed out that as a result of the damage sustained to the building it would have to be leveled.
As to the possible cause of the fire Martinkovic said that “everything is centered around propane.”
It took several hours to bring the fire under control but the fire apparently triggered electrical problems for NYSEG as Livingston Manor went dark with electricity coming back on somewhere shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Witness to devastation
Story by Dan Hust
LIVINGSTON MANOR Neal Mock and his dad George felt the ground shake beneath their Livingston Manor home Tuesday afternoon.
“We heard a big explosion,” said Neal.
“All of a sudden, we felt a rumble then it want ka-BOOM!” George added.
Father and son had been raking leaves, but the blast sent them running down Pleasant Street and across the Little Beaverkill to downtown Main Street.
Debris and shattered glass littered the street in front of the Hoos Building, home to four businesses, including the popular Lazy Beagle restaurant.
“I saw pieces of the whole front of the building lying on the ground,” Neal recalled. “There was definitely an explosion inside.”
Livingston Manor firefighters had just arrived, too a bare eight minutes after the first 911 call at 3:32 p.m.
Suddenly, there was a second explosion, sending a propane tank’s metal cap flying across Pearl Street and into the Sunoco gas station’s parking lot.
“The tank blew up,” said Neal. “The building just was engulfed in flames.”
They started directing cars past the blaze, and calls went out over the emergency radios for all available manpower.
The cause remains under investigation by the county’s Bureau of Fire.
Heartbroken owner talks
Story by Dan Hust
Lazy Beagle proprietor Sims Foster whose father Barry owns the building and ran the Hot Corner sports memorabilia store next door thanked the community for overwhelming support.
“We are very, very thankful nobody was in the building or hurt or harmed,” Sims acknowledged. “We’re also super-thankful to the Livingston Manor Fire Dept. and Youngsville and Roscoe, who put their lives on the line to stop this fire. What a service they did to the community.”
He summed up the loss to his family in two words:
For more than a decade, the Fosters have dedicated much time, effort and money to maintaining the Hoos Building as the proud heart of the downtown business district not to make a fortune but to be part of something special.
“It was really more about us being part of the rebirth of Manor at the time,” Sims said.
Just this year, the second floor of the building had been renovated to host up to six artists, with one already moved in.
“I was really excited about it and proud of that space,” Sims said.
In the face of yet one more blow to Manor, could another rebirth be in the works?
“I’ve had three restaurants in Livingston Manor so far I wouldn’t count out a fourth,” Sims remarked.
But, he added, “it’s way too early to even think about what our [next] steps are.”
Save for one taking care of the people who have worked so hard to make the Lazy Beagle the must-visit destination it became over the past four years.
“We have employees who depend on that business,” Sims affirmed, “and we take that seriously.