Massive Oswego Fire Leaves Onion Farm Warehouse in Ruins

    By on January 5, 2016
    • These drone shots show devastation in the wake of the fire at Dunsmoor Onion Farm. Aerial photos from Shawn Cathcart

    • Fire departments from throughout the region responded to a massive fire at Dunsmoor Onion Farm in Oswego County. Becky Delaney Photo

    It took an estimated 150 firefighters, including some from Red Creek, Fair Haven and Victory, to knock down a massive fire the evening of Jan. 2 that destroyed a Dunsmoor Onion Farm building that served as a barn and warehouse.

    Tankers of water were needed at the scene to douse the fire, which was so large hydrants couldn’t handle it, according to fire department sources.

    Oswego County 911, when questioned Jan. 5, said the fire was reported at the 7965 NY-104, Town of Oswego farm at 7:56 p.m. Jan. 2, and said it was declared under control at 4:58 a.m. the following morning.

    The scene was ultimately cleared by about 4 p.m. Jan. 3, according to information posted online by Town of Oswego Fire Chief Greg Herrmann.

    No injuries were reported. Herrmann said in his online comments that a warehouse was lost, and that two homes near the fire scene sustained minor heat damage.

    “They did save the houses, that’s a good thing,” one firefighter said.

    Photos of the fire were quickly posted online, including some taken via a drone operated by Shawn Cathcart of Oswego.

    “These were mainly for documentation purposes for the fire department,” Cathcart said in a telephone interview Jan. 4.

    “I’m a hobbyist,” Cathcart said. “Any pictures I take are simply when I am free to do so. I throw them up there and let people use them at will. I don’t make any money on anything.”

    Cathcart said he took his drone pictures the morning of Jan. 3.

    At its highest, Cathcart said, the drone took pictures from 396 feet.

    “Because of the FAA rules, I limit the ceiling to 400 feet,” he said. “The FAA rules are clear and I do my best to adhere to them.”

    Cathcart said he was at the scene as he operated the drone.

    He said he had fire department permission to take photos with his drone.

    “I won’t fly unless I have absolute permission to do so,” he said. “I was asked to come out and see if it was possible to fly. With the winds, it was,” he said.

    Cathcart said it was a major fire.

    “It was pretty big. It’s really unfortunate. That business has been there longer than I have been alive,” he said.

    There was a reference to the drone pictures on a Facebook posting by Chief Herrmann.

    “Special thanks go to Shawn Cathcart for coming out and giving command the drone perspective of the scene. In talking with my chiefs at the scene, I never thought I would use the phrase ‘I have checked the drone photos’ and this is our plan of attack. They are amazing,” Herrmann said.

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