American Red Cross helping 21 people from 7 residences

Update: The American Red Cross is assisting 21 people (13 adults and eight children) from seven residences impacted by today’s fire in Hornell.

HORNELL — Hornell firefighters and personnel from nearby fire companies battled a large blaze on Preston Avenue in the city Sunday.

Reports from the scene indicated the fire spread to several homes on the street. Hornell Fire Chief Frank Brzozowski tells The Spectator that six homes caught fire — four on Preston and two on Washington Street.

“We had two structures involved. They were fully involved when we pulled up. It spread to two adjacent structures on either side of it, and two houses. With the wind currents and the embers, it caught the backs of the houses on fire on Washington Street.” Brzozowski said.

Mutual aid has been called in from multiple neighboring departments as firefighters work to get the fire under control.

Assistance was provided by crews from neighboring departments South Hornell, North Hornell, Canisteo and Greenwood.

"We had a little water issue initially," Brzozowski said. "This part of the city on this end, the hydrant pressure is a little lower just because of the mains and the setup on this side, so when you’ve got that many structures involved, and you’re trying to bleed off of one or two mains, that’s why the additional crews would go to the next hydrant, the next hydrant up, to bring water in. Once we got enough of the outside departments in, that we had enough power to contain what we had."

The Hornell Police Department said a warming center for any residents impacted by the fire has been set up at the Hornell High School cafeteria. Food and drinks will be provided. Donations for the affected families will also be collected at the high school. Forever 6ix Clothing said it will donate clothes to families who lost everything. Additional donation opportunities will be reported as they become available.

The American Red Cross is assisting a total of 21 people (13 adults and eight children) from seven residences impacted by today’s fire.

Red Cross assistance typically includes funding for temporary housing, food and clothing as needed, and specially-trained Disaster Mental Health volunteers are available to help those affected deal with the emotional aspect of their disaster. The families will meet with caseworkers in the coming days to work on long-term recovery plans.

At about 4:30 p.m. the chief provided the following update: “The adjacent structures and the ones out back, we’re checking with thermal imagers to make sure there’s nothing else, there’s no hot embers in the walls or anything like that. We’re checking both adjacent structures on either side of the block.”

The chief said two firefighters suffered minor injuries during the response. The chief was told there were animals in one house. They are unaccounted for at this point.

For more photos of the response from firefighters, visit the gallery at https://www.eveningtribune.com/photogallery/NE/20191117/NEWS/111709999/PH/1

This is a developing story and updates will be posted at www.eveningtribune.com and in print as additional information becomes available.