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TMCNet:  Castile fire destroys 1882 municipal building; owner of diner next door missing

[October 03, 2012]

Castile fire destroys 1882 municipal building; owner of diner next door missing

Oct 03, 2012 (The Buffalo News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- CASTILE Thanks to officials of the Bank of Castile, town and village governments devastated by a fire that destroyed the 140-year-old municipal building Tuesday on North Main Street will be up and running by Thursday morning.

That was the message Town Supervisor Stephen Tarbell shared with The Buffalo News on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, the historic structure that dominated the village landscape will be demolished, and firefighters continue to seek any sign of the owner of the popular Lorraine's Place restaurant, attached to the municipal building, who is feared to have been a casualty of the fire.

The diner and the town courtroom inside the municipal building also were destroyed in the early morning blaze.

The supervisor said state court system officials were in to see him Tuesday, and thanks to the efforts of village Mayor Keith Granger and village fire officials, the town court will function in the fire hall, next door to the municipal building but unblemished by the fire.

The Town Board also will temporarily meet in the fire hall, including for its next scheduled meeting Oct. 15.

"The problem right now is that we have no computers and no phones, so at the moment, as governments, we and the village are merely functioning," Tarbell said when reached by phone at home Tuesday evening.

Wyoming County sheriff's deputies and county fire officials were among those who spent much of the day combing through the rubble left in the wake of the fire.

Many of the municipal records from the 19th century, stored on the second floor of the building, were lost in the blaze, the supervisor said, but most of the more recent records stored on the first floor were spared.

Official damage estimates were unavailable Tuesday night, but Tarbell predicted damage will stretch into the millions of dollars.

"By Thursday morning," he said, "we'll have computers and phones, and both the town and village governments will be fully operational." Meanwhile, firefighters and friends feared for the safety of Lorraine Qutermous, owner of the diner bearing her first name, who has not been in contact with anyone since finishing work Monday night.

At a midday news conference Tuesday, village fire officials said the municipal building was constructed in 1882 and was one of the oldest and most historic structures in Wyoming County.

The building included the diner and some second-floor apartments.

Firefighters said they expect the structure to be torn down today.

Twenty-four fire companies were called to the scene after the fire was noticed at 1:49 a.m. Tuesday.

Fire officials said the fire started in a second-floor apartment. The cause remains under investigation.

A large contingent of fire crews and additional water were needed because the water main in that section of the village is being repaired, leaving only enough water available for routine daily use.

Castile has a population of about 2,900. The town was established in 1821 from part of the Town of Perry; the village was incorporated in 1877.

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