County wants to know cost of Richmondville fire


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County wants to know how the three-day fire along the Northfolk Southern Railroad in Worcester and Richmondville started.
And if it’s the railroad?
Supervisors chair Bill Federice said Friday he wants them held accountable.
Fighting the stubborn brush fire—actually, there were four separate fires—required dozens of volunteers from 13 Schoharie County fire departments as well as from Otsego County, along with forest rangers, who also brought a helicopter to drop water on the blaze.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but authorities have said it may have been caused by a passing train—or when work being on the track ignited grass alongside it.
The fire ripped through 241 acres at the Schoharie/Otsego County line, but no homes were damaged and only one shed was lost.
Mr. Federice said he’s asking Mike Hartzel, director of Emergency Services, and his team to keep careful track of all of the resources used in fighting the fire.
“If it’s the railroad, if it’s true that they were grinding the rails and there were sparks in every direction…to me, it’s irresponsible,” Mr. Federice said.
“I don’t know where it will go. We can play nice, or we can turn it up a notch.”
Mr. Federice said he’d like to hear from fire departments outside the county as well.
Richmondville Supervisor Jeff Haslun—also a Richmondville firefighter—publicly offered thanks for all of the effort everyone put into fighting the fire, including not only fire departments and rescue squads, but State Police, the Sheriff’’s Office, the Christian Community Church of Faith and the Cobleskill-Richmondville High School both of which opened up their facilities as staging areas; and the businesses and individuals that showed up with food.
It was a Norfolk Southern trail that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, at the Pennsylvania border, in February, forcing the evacuation of about 5,000 residents when first responders intentionally burned toxic chemicals in some of the derailed cars to prevent an uncontrolled explosion.
“They did it before,” said Schoharie Supervisor Alan Tavenner. “They burned up East Palestine. Now they tried to burn up Richmondville.”