Monitoring The Midtown Mall Area

By WBNG News

December 22, 2010 Updated Dec 23, 2010 at 12:11 AM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Firefighters are still investigating Tuesday night's fire that tore through the Midtown Mall at 17 Chenango Street. Action News has learned firefighters left the scene around 7 Wednesday evening.

Crews fought fire and smoke for more than 20 hours.

Action News has learned crews will return to the site periodically to check on the Midtown Mall and nearby buildings.

Binghamton Police will also be patrolling the area.

There is also a spare fire engine and tower at the scene in case flames return.

The initial fire call came in just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.

Firefighters tell Action News it was nearly impossible to fight the blaze from inside the building.

Crews were able to make their way inside to the second floor, but had to evacuate due to the heavy flames.

There were holes in the floor because of the construction, which made navigating extremely dangerous.

Binghamton's Assistant Fire Chief says that's when the crews' focus became containing the fire to the site of the Midtown Mall,

"Once we determined we couldn't get inside, our priority became the adjoining building, to keep the exposures and things like that, so we were successful in that Perry Building. I believe we'll be able to open it up in the morning," says Binghamton's Assistant Fire Chief Larry Ostanek.

Ostanek adds this is the worst fire he's seen in his career, which spans over twenty years.

He says the Midtown Mall is a total loss.

Next door, in the Perry building, there is minor smoke damage, Ostanek says.

Ostanek also adds the former Press Building has sufficient water damage because of it's proximity to the Midtown Mall.