A passerby reported a fire at the Angola Moose Lodge on Rte. 5 to the Angola Fire Control Dispatch Center shortly after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, September 12.
The fire call brought Highland and North Evans firefighters on the first alarm. Eventually, almost a dozen fire departments from five towns were involved in the multi-alarm firefight that consumed the building and rendered it a total loss.
Heavily charged gray and brown smoke pushed from all sides of the building and fire was already showing from the rear when Assistant Chief Ed Jackson arrived first on location, and took charge of operations at the front of the structure. He was soon joined by District Chief Nick Mecca who took command of the fire. Assistant Chief Jack Hazard directed operations in the rear of the structure.
Mecca called for a second alarm shortly after arriving on location, bringing fire engines from Evans Center and Lake View, and an aerial tower ladder from Scranton in the Town of Hamburg. Town of Evans Deputy Fire Radio Coordinator and Fire Marshal John Latimore assisted Mecca with command functions.
Firefighters made an initial interior attack but were quickly called out due to the heavy smoke and fire conditions weakening the 80 ft. x 90 ft. structure. They were ordered to stand clear of the building as the threat of a collapse was imminent.
A bad water main valve to the east of the fire and a water main break to the west hindered extinguishing efforts early on.
This prompted Mecca to make special calls for a total of seven tankers from the Brant, Eden, Langford and Lawtons Fire Departments bringing a total capacity of 23,000 gallons of water to the scene. The Angola Fire Department was dispatched with an engine to fill tankers at a hydrant across from the Evans Center Fire Station more than a mile away. Lake Erie Beach's rescue truck was requested to the scene to refill firefighter air bottles from their on-board fill station.
The fire eventually broke through the roof of the block construction building, causing the rooftop air conditioning system to fall, blowing out the wall on the west side of the building. The fire then quickly consumed the structure, sending huge fireballs and mushroom clouds of burning smoke into the morning air.
The exterior and aerial assault went on for hours in an effort to quell the raging flames. Heavy equipment was called in to knock down the remains of the building and pull apart the debris so firefighters could wet down remaining hot spots.
Firefighters were further hampered by the live power lines arcing and the building construction, made up of multiple ceilings and several structural alterations.
Fortunately there were no firefighter injuries. Some 75 firefighters were on scene during the operation.
Firefighters stretched nearly 3,000 feet of hose and flowed an estimated 300,000 gallons of water from the hydrants.
Fire personnel were on location into the late afternoon, picking up hose lines and investigating the fire. Crews from five other companies were on standby at other fire stations.
Highland and North Evans were assisted at the scene by the Town of Evans Police, Erie County Sheriffs Department Fire Investigators, Investigators from the New York State Gaming and Wagering Authority, Angola Fire Control Dispatch Center, Rural Metro Paramedics, Town of Evans Building Inspectors and Ladies Auxiliaries from the Highland and North Evans Fire Companies who provided food and refreshments for the weary and worn firefighters. Fr. Joe Bayne, Chief Chaplain of the Erie County Department of Emergency Services, was on scene to provide support to the emergency personnel.
Firefighters worked throughout the day overhauling the remains of the former club. The fire remains under investigation.
Though burned and tattered from the fire, the American flag stood proudly in front of this place where citizens met routinely since the 1950's with a common goal: to make the Town of Evans a better community to live, work and play in. Perhaps that's enough inspiration for this service organization to rise from the ashes and rebuild.