Knapp House saved from fire

John Christensen
Penn Yan and Himrod Fire Departments responded to the Sunday afternoon fire at the iconic Knapp House building. See more photos at

Quick action by a Penn Yan Police Dept. patrolman and two residents saved the Knapp Hotel, one of the landmark buildings of Penn Yan that is due to be renovated as a major element of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative awarded last year. 

Officer Brandon DeHond was in his patrol car Sunday, March 22 when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the third floor of the Knapp House, just below its Victorian tower, an icon of downtown Penn Yan. He called the fire in to dispatch and immediately began to evacuate the building of its residents with the help of fellow PYPD Officer Brian Quayle. Penn Yan and Himrod Fire Departments responded, as did the Penn Yan Ambulance Corps.

Inv. Wayne Marsh of the PYPD, says the fire was limited to one third floor apartment with no structural damage to the venerable former hotel, now a 16-unit apartment building with five commercial spaces on the ground floor. 

Owner Bill Foster praised the swift action of the police and firefighters, as well as the two residents of that apartment who were alerted by a smoke detector, went after it with a fire extinguisher, then helped evacuate the building, including one elderly resident with limited mobility. Foster says the damage was limited to the living room of that one apartment, and the two residents have been relocated, while all others were able to return to their apartments.

No injuries resulted from the fire, the cause of which is still under investigation by Marsh and the Yates County Fire Investigation Team.