ELLENVILLE – At around 12:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, a massive three-alarm structure fire broke out at 613 Automotive on Route 209 in Ellenville. Ellenville Police Chief Phil Mattracion said the cause of the fire is yet unconfirmed. No one was injured.
According to a security guard, a battery pack was seen “sparking” at the site reportedly around the time of the fire. Shortly afterwards, an explosion was reported. There were also unconfirmed reports of further explosions as multiple vehicles caught fire. Residential neighbors began calling police and fire officials. Many reports of the fire began to arrive at police headquarters. Ellenville Police and state police then closed down Route 209 to all traffic from Oak Ridge Road to Center Street in Ellenville until 11:30 a.m.
Fire Chief John Avery of the Ellenville Fire Department said the fire began in the automotive building’s showroom, which extended into the garage area of the back of the building. When officials arrived, they found the fire already raging. Avery said the crew had an issue with the water supply, with intermittent flow, which caused some initial delays. About 30 minutes later, a tanker arrived, allowing them to have full water flow at that point, aiding in the control of the fire. According to Mattracion, 15 fire companies responded, along with state police and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.
Daybreak revealed the charred remains of the dealership and the classic cars that just yesterday were used in a scene for the HBO show I Know This Much Is True. The entire dealership and attached garage were destroyed. Some additional buildings to the rear of the mechanic shop were still standing and in “good shape,” according to Avery. He also reported some minor damage to nearby houses; the families of three of the affected residences have had to be temporarily relocated. Firefighters appeared exhausted from an early morning of fighting the blaze. They were able to finally extinguish the blaze by 10 a.m.
According to a statement issued by Ellenville Police, the building was turned over to the authorities of the police and the building inspector at 1 p.m. Thursday.
At least 20 of the vehicles on the lot were destroyed, along with some camera and sound equipment from the HBO shoot. It’s estimated that the damage may run in the millions of dollars. Mattracion said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
"The absolutely amazing thing to come out of this atrocity is the fact that not one firefighter, law enforcement officer or civilian was injured in this multi-faceted operation that took place this morning," Mattracion said. "This is a true testament to the professionalism, training and dedication that the brave men and women who, in the face of grave danger, volunteer to respond and leave their families behind at a moment's notice, not knowing whether they will return."
The HBO production is being directed by Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine) and stars Mark Ruffalo, Rosie O’Donnell, Melissa Leo, Archie Panjabi, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn and Juliette Lewis.
I Know This Much Is True is slated to be shown on HBO in 2020.
This is an ongoing story. Watch this space for information updates.