The building which housed the Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant on the first floor and several apartments on the second and third floors cannot be occupied at this time following a fire that ripped through it on Thursday afternoon (April 23), but Honeoye Falls Fire Chief Dave Hood said the fire could have been much worse.
“Initial fire crews went in and did a great job of knocking down the fire on the first floor,” Hood said. “But, due to the construction of the building and the fact that there have been many modifications made over the years, there was a lot of void space. The fire got into those void spaces between walls and raced vertically up to the roof.”
The fire was reported by a person walking on Monroe Street shortly after 2 p.m. The person, who noticed smoke coming from one of the apartments at the back of the building at 17 West Main Street, went across Monroe Street to the Honeoye Falls fire hall and told on-duty personnel.
“Once, the fire was knocked down on the first floor interior, we then had to tear apart a lot of the interior and exterior of the building on all three floors to open up those void spaces to get to those flames and make sure all the fire was out so we did not have a rekindle,” Hood stated. “All the firefighters did a fantastic job; the fire could have easily gone in the wrong direction and wiped out that block.”
Honeoye Falls was assisted by firefighters from Mendon, Rush, Lima, East Avon, Pittsford, Livonia and Henrietta while Ionia Fire Department provided a fill-in crew. The firefighters attacked the fire from West Main Street and from the back parking lot, which is right across from the Honeoye Falls fire hall. In addition to pumpers from the various departments, Hood said that three aerial trucks, one each from Honeoye Falls, Lima and East Avon, were also at the scene.
Honeoye Falls Fire Department has 25 operational firefighters and Rush and Mendon Fire Departments are automatically called to structure fires in Honeoye Falls.
“We called in the additional fire departments for three reasons,” Hood said. “One is the size of the building. The second reason was because of the fire being on multiple floors of the building and third because of exposure to the other buildings nearby, particularly the one connected building. We also wanted the standby crews if things got worse and the flames spread quickly.”
While most of the flames were put out at 3:07 p.m., the fire was not officially declared under control until 3:21 p.m.
Hood said that with so many people home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, manpower was very ample to contain the fire.
“Before COVID-19, in the middle of the afternoon like that, we normally would have had less personnel available, not just in our department but in the other departments that we called in. But, because so many people are either working from home or are just home, we had more firefighters available earlier in fighting the fire that what we would have otherwise.”
The Monroe County Fire Bureau and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the fire, but no cause had been determined when The Sentinel talked to Hood on Sunday. Hood said it appeared that Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant was not operating currently because of COVID-19, according to a note on the restaurant’s door. The American Red Cross was assisting residents of the apartments on the second and third floors. Hood said some of the apartments sustained more damage than others, but all are untenable at this time.