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Officials: Fire treated as suspicious

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    Courtesy of Catskill Fire Company A structure fire in Leeds, one of two area fires Friday night.
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    Courtesy of Catskill Fire Company The remains of the building after Friday night's blaze in Leeds.
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    Courtesy of Catskill Fire Company One of two fires that broke out Friday night in Catskill and Leeds.
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    Courtesy of Catskill Fire Company Firefighters on the scene of a fire in Catskill, working in frigid temperatures Friday night.
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    Courtesy of Catskill Fire Company The ladder truck was utilized to ensure the fire was brought under control.
February 4, 2019 05:04 pm Updated: February 4, 2019 09:09 pm

A fire in Leeds on Friday night in being treated as suspicious, authorities said, as the investigation continued Monday. Meanwhile, the cause of a fire early Saturday morning in Catskill may never be known, fire officials said.


The call for the Leeds fire, at 684 Sandy Plains Road, came in at around 7:30 p.m. Friday. No residents were home at the time, but a dog perished inside.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire as intentionally set, Lt. Adam Brainard said Monday.

Investigation into the fire was turned over to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Greene County Fire Investigation Team Chief Gerry Buckley said.

Authorities had no further comment about the investigation.

Ricky and Annette Coon, of Milan, are listed in Greene County property records as the homeowners.

Volunteers with the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross provided financial assistance for necessities such as shelter, food and clothing to an adult and four children after the fire, according to a statement released by the Red Cross.

The house was small and close to being a total loss by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, Leeds Fire Chief Tom McCullough said, adding the fire was knocked out fairly quickly although trucks were freezing up in the bitter cold.

“It wasn’t raging for the entire time we were on scene,” McCullough said. “The house is a total loss for all intents and purposes.”

One of the homeowners was at the scene after the fire department received multiple calls, McCullough said.

Many of the firefighters didn’t return home until nearly 1:45 a.m., but were called out a short time later to a fire at Catskill Transmissions early Saturday morning, McCullough said, adding the Catskill and Leeds fire departments help each other out when needed.

“It was one hand washed the other,” the chief said. “We knew what they were going through and they knew what we were going through.”


The second blaze ripped through Catskill Transmission is Jefferson Heights at around 2 a.m. Saturday when temperatures plummeted to 6-below zero. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.

The garage had numerous fuel sources inside including transmission fluid and waste oil used for heating, which made it impossible for firefighters to determine a cause, Catskill Fire Chief Patrick McCulloch said. Making matters worse, the roof of the building collapsed.

The fire is not believed to be suspicious.

“It’s undetermined. We’re not going to be able to find out the cause,” McCulloch said. “When I got there, the entire building was engulfed in flames.”

The building is considered a total loss and the shop’s owner was on the scene, McCulloch said.

Some cars parked close to the building did not catch fire because of the bitter cold. The chief told his firefighters to park their trucks far away from the building so they wouldn’t be damaged.

“The radiant heat did not affect anything outside the building,” McCulloch said. “They [the cars] had no damage.”

Firefighters were on the scene for about five hours and returned to the firehouse at 7:30 Saturday morning.

The Greene County Hazardous Materials Team provided firefighters with shelter in the dangerously cold conditions.

“Greene County Hazmat came with their warming tent and the business next door opened their doors to let firefighters use their building to thaw out,” McCulloch said.

Several hours after returning to the firehouse, the crew went back to make sure the scene was safe and found smoldering tires outside the building when they arrived.

“We took that opportunity to douse the entire building again with water,” McCullough said.

Leeds, West Athens Limestreet, Athens, Cairo, Kiskatom, Hudson, Greenport and Palenville fire departments, Catskill Ambulance and the Catskill Town Highway Department and Catskill Village Department of Public Works all responded.

To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.