Fire badly damages Key Bank branch in Phoenicia; vault contents, customer records OK

February 7, 2015

The Key Bank branch on Main Street in this Shandaken hamlet was badly damaged by a fire late Monday.

Firefighters were notified of the blaze via 911 calls about 9:30 p.m. and found smoke billowing out from the small, mostly brick and concrete block building. The Phoenicia Fire Department is located around the corner from the bank.

Firefighters from Phoenicia and at least half a dozen other companies were able to save the structure itself, but the interior sustained major damage.

The bank issued a statement midday Tuesday that said customer records and the contents of the bank’s vault were safe.

“We want to ensure all customers that all client information and safety deposit boxes are secure,” the statement read. “We will schedule a time in the future for clients to access their safety deposit boxes.”

Andrea Cabane, who lives across the street from the bank, said firefighters appeared to have the situation under control quickly.

“There was so much smoke,” she said by telephone late Monday. “But they had it under control pretty fast.”

Firefighters were able to get water from a hydrant across the street despite the Phoenicia Water District having a frozen main that’s been affecting service in the hamlet.

The fire was knocked down within an hour, but Phoenicia Fire Chief Gary Carr said his department stayed at the scene until after 2 a.m. to make sure there were no additional problems.

“That building has a drop ceiling, and there’s blown in insulation up in there,” he said. “Fire can get into that and not be visible. You’ve got to go up in there and make sure that it’s out.”

Carr said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

The bank apparently plans to reopen. In the statement it issued Tuesday, it said there was “no specific timetable of when we will reopen, but we will contact customers when we plan to.”

Shandaken Supervisor Robert Stanley said the town is willing to help the bank branch find temporary quarters.

The closest other Key Bank branches to Phoenicia are in Kingston, Stone Ridge and Windham.

Monday’s fire was the third significant blaze to hit the heart of the Phoenicia business district in the past eight years. In 2007, the Phoenicia Hotel, next door to the bank, was destroyed by a midsummer blaze; and in early 2011, a fire destroyed the Phoenicia Library across the street. The hotel was never rebuilt, but the library was, and it reopened last month.

Years earlier, the Main Street building that houses Sweet Sue’s restaurant, which abuts the bank on the side opposite from the former hotel, was damaged by a fire. The popular restaurant ultimately rebuilt and reopened.

On Monday night, the Phoenicia Library posted an eerie message on its Facebook page about the Key Bank fire.

“Key Bank across the way on fire,” it stated. “This feels so frighteningly familiar. Too many Main Street fires. Fire under control. Still feel shaky.”

Fire companies at the scene Monday night, besides Phoenicia, included Mount Tremper, Big Indian, Shandaken, Fleischmanns, Olive and West Hurley.

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