Update: Collapsing building knocks down utility poles

Gwen Chamberlain
The fallen utility pole on Seneca Street narrowly missed the Birkett Mills building.

Municipal electric crews from Bath and Fairport worked through the night Saturday night until 8 a.m. Sunday with Penn Yan Municipal Utility workers to erect new utility poles and restore electric service to the portion of Penn Yan that was darkened by a Saturday afternoon demolition accident.

About 35 electric customers, including downtown businesses that had already been hit hard by flood damage, took another blow when the power was out for repairs for an extended period.

Mayor Leigh MacKerchar says he can’t thank the crews from out of town enough for the help they provided when the already heavily damaged Owl’s Nest building on Seneca Street collapsed Saturday afternoon, knocking down two 50-ft. tall utility poles with at least three transformers and a web of telephone, cable TV and power lines.

“At one point there were six bucket trucks in the air,” says MacKerchar, describing the teamwork that was needed to make the repairs. “We just didn’t have the manpower or equipment,” he adds.

“They looked like one crew that had worked together for years,” he said, noting that the Penn Yan Fire Department volunteers were on site for many hours as well.

Penn Yan Fire Chief Jeff Housel explains the building collapsed a little before 4 p.m. as contractors were building a ramp to the building from the Basin Street parking lot area in preparation to demolish the building Monday.

The structure became unstable and collapsed. Initial reports indicating that two people might be trapped in the rubble were unfounded, said Housel.

Jeff Gifford, speaking on behalf of Owl’s Nest LLC, the owner of the building, says the future of the property has not been determined.

He confirmed that contractor Pete Townsend was working on some preliminary demolition preparation work when the building collapsed. “If it had fallen the other way, it wouldn’t have been an issue,” he said Tuesday morning.

As the building fell, it damaged an exhaust fan on the back of the Lloyd’s Limited.

By Monday morning, the only building still without power was the one at the corner of Main and Seneca where the laundromat is located. Tuesday morning Bodine said all electric service in the village had been restored.

Some telephone and cable TV customers were still without service Monday as well, notes MacKerchar.

Municipal workers re-installed the bank of transformers Monday, according to MacKerchar.