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Fire strikes Griff’s Propane outside Watertown, spreads to neighboring business

Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 11:23 AM EST
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TOWN OF PAMELIA, New York (WWNY) - Two businesses on State Route 3 just outside Watertown were damaged by a raging fire that started around 8 a.m. Saturday.

Fire officials tell 7 News it started when workers at Griff’s Propane Exchange were handling a propane tank that started leaking. That leaked propane eventually sparked fire.

Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Director Joe Plummer says workers were able to get out of the business safely.

The fire spread quickly, sending a thick plume of black smoke into the air that could be seen all around Watertown.

Officials say the blaze spread to a warehouse operated by neighboring Overhead Door Company. The warehouse was completely destroyed.

“You still go to put the water on the fire to put the fire out but when you start running into all of these little propane tanks that you have on your gas grill, there’s multiples of those, probably hundreds of those in there those always become challenging,” said Plummer.

Lisa Barry’s family has run that business for 75 years.

“It’s a devastating loss for us,” Barry said. “The worst thing you want to hear. Your family’s company, and all the employees that work here. 35 years of my life and 45 years of other people’s (lives). Three generations of my family.”

Barry says despite the setback, Overhead Door Company will continue operations. It will update its Facebook page with contact numbers for customers to call.

Fire officials say no one was injured. Crews were able to contain the blaze before it made its way to a large propane tank nearby. Plummer says that tank stores thousands of gallons of propane, and if it had ignited, the situation would have been much worse. The incident remains under investigation.

A portion of Route 3 remains closed to traffic. Crews say they’ll be here working for much of the day Saturday.

People nearby saw flames and heavy smoke billowing from Griff's Propane Exchange Saturday morning
People nearby saw flames and heavy smoke billowing from Griff's Propane Exchange Saturday morning(WWNY)
The plume of smoke could be seen all throughout Watertown.
The plume of smoke could be seen all throughout Watertown.(Amber Howarth)

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