Middlefield blast injures firefighters

Greg Klein | The Daily Star A garage destroyed by fire in the town of Middlefield is shown Thursday, Feb. 27, a day after it burned down. At least five firefighters were hurt battling the blaze. 

Five firefighters were injured fighting a Wednesday, Feb. 26, fire in Middlefield, Cooperstown Volunteer Fire Department First Assistant Chief Michael Molloy said last week.

The injured firefighters are James Tallman, Jon Roach and Scott Monington from the Cooperstown Fire Department; and John Sears and Ryan Smith of the Middlefield Fire Department, according to an Otsego County media release.

Roach and Monington were transferred to SUNY Upstate for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation, and were later released. Tallman, Sears, and Smith were released after treatment at Bassett Medical Center.

Fire crews from Cooperstown, Middlefield, Cherry Valley and other departments responded around 8:45 p.m. Feb. 26 to a fully involved garage fire at 3679 County Highway 35, Otsego County 911 Communications Director Robert O’Brien said.

The firefighters were injured when a tank at the scene exploded.

“Right after that there was a big, huge fireball that just enveloped all the guys within seconds,” Molloy said.

Molloy said he didn’t know what the tank was, but said it could have been used for welding. The Otsego County Office of Emergency Services was assisted in the fire investigation by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, state police and the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department.

New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control Assistant Director of Communications Chet Lasell said in an email to The Daily Star that the office is investigating the fire at the request of local partners.

“This case remains under investigation and as such, we cannot comment further at this time,” Lasell said.

GoFundMe pages for Roach, at https//bit.ly/3chMP7M, and Monington, at https://bit.ly/2Ilzaim, have been set up. There will be a spaghetti dinner benefit for the duo at the Fly Creek Fire Department on March 21, and a portion of the proceeds of a March 14 dinner in Hartwick Seminary will also be donated to the pair.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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