Major fire breaks out at Frankfort industrial building

Firefighters from multiple departments try to control fire at abandoned factory in Frankfort.

A fire broke out around 2:00 p.m. Wednesday at the former Union Fork and Hoe, in a building between East Main Street and Industrial Drive in the Village of Frankfort.

Flames were reportedly shooting 20 to 30 feet into the air. More than a dozen fire departments from across the Mohawk Valley were on the scene trying to extinguish the fire and protect other buildings.

The fire spread quickly through at least five buildings on the Union Tools factory complex. The area was formerly known as Union Fork and Hoe. Firefighters from more than 15 departments worked to contain the fire and stop it from spreading to more buildings.

The factory has been vacant since 2006 and was scheduled to be demolished later this month. The site opened in 1907 as the Union Fork & Hoe Co., which made garden tools and related products. Hundreds people worked at the factory at one point.

As the fire spread, a crowd of people filled main street in Frankfort to watch the historic site go up in smoke.

"Fork and Hoe has been here forever. It's one of the landmarks. It's a shame," said Elaine Smaldone, who lives right down the street from the fire.

Contractors were doing demolition setup when the fire broke out but they escaped unharmed. No firefighter injuries had been reported by Wednesday night.

Steven Roballard worked at Union Fork and Hoe for twenty years. As he watched flames burn through the buildings he worked in, Roballard said he had worried about a massive fire for years.

"It's an accident waiting to happen. No sprinklers, water has been shut off for seven years and buildings that are over 100 years old," said Roballard.

Firefighters kept their distance and used aerial attacks to keep the fire under control. Union Fork and Hoe produced garden tools for almost 100 years starting in 1907.

Frankfort is a town with a population in the range of 2,500 people. It is a blue collar community that has relied on labor and manufacturing as its lifeblood over the years. As the fire continued to burn into the early evening, many neighbors said it was a sad end for the buildings where hundreds went to work every day.

"There's not much in Frankfort and now we're losing something else," said Jeanna Simonette.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

No injuries were reported.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)