Old Forge explosion: The clean-up

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UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – Friday, July 30 a two-story home exploded on First Lake in the town of Webb. The explosion injured two people, demolished the house and damaged 17 surrounding homes. According to the Old Forge Fire Department, the cause of the explosion is still under investigation and clean up efforts have been underway through the weekend.

Neighbors, local residents, and visitors both young and old have worked through the weekend to clear debris from First Lake. These efforts are being made to prevent debris from traveling further up the Fulton Lake chain. They have been able to keep most of the debris out of the neighboring Second Lake.

“It’s really been a collective effort, and it’s just really heartwarming,” said Patrick Gorton, the chairman of the Hollywood Hills property owners board of directors. “People have showed up with food and beverages and coffee and rakes and shovels and gloves . . . Regardless of disagreements or anything, everyone’s been wonderful. I think we should try to duplicate that over and over again across this great country.”

Lisa Hudin, drove from her current residence in NH to help out. She said, “What I’ve been trying to do is get a bunch of the fiber glass insulation and any of the wiring. That’s been a lot of the stuff, and then we’ve also been hauling a whole bunch of decking. I’ve found some great big metal pieces that I’ve been hauling out. There’s people all around the shoreline with barges, and they’re just taking turns and they just keep hauling all the debris back here, so we’re going to do the best we can to get it cleaned up as quickly as possible.”

The Old Forge Fire Department chief, Chris Stanley, shared, “It’s pretty heartwarming to see your whole community, even people that are just visitors take boats out and clean up the water that everybody comes here to use.”

Despite the large amounts of debris volunteers have been able to remove there are still large amounts left to be cleaned up, much of which has sunk below the water. The Old Forge fire chief advises boaters to avoid the area for recreational purposes as there may be large pieces in the water that could harm boaters and the vessel itself. Going forward, the community remains thankful that this explosion came with no fatalities and they will continue to clean up the debris and support their neighbors as best they can.

We’ve had two of the neighbors to the property that was destroyed, their homes have been declared unfit, so they have to totally tear them down and start over,” Gorton said. “So, that’s three homes that need to be torn down and started over. Quite often these days insurance doesn’t cover the bill, so maybe we’ll look to GoFundMe pages at some point.”

Hollywood Hills homeowners are asking that people stay out of the area unless you live there, and they’re asking that boaters reduce their traffic on First Lake.

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