Chief: Crews Watch Former 'Woodshed' Burn (With Photos)

By Matt Hicks, Dave Greber and Erika Mahoney

January 3, 2013 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 2:21 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A former furniture manufacturer, whose 24-foot chair once graced the Binghamton skyline in the late 1970s, went up like kindling Wednesday, filling the same landscape decades later with an orange glow and thick, hazy smoke.

The fire's intensity had diminished by late morning, but it continued to burn as of 11 a.m., more than 12 hours after it was called in. Small flames licked the outside of what was left standing and throughout the pile of rubble at 115 Montgomery St.

Onlookers, who slowed and stopped along Interstate 81 and the Brandywine Highway during the height of the fire to witness the remains of the old Pa's Woodshed have moved on. Surrounding streets that had been closed early Thursday were open as of 11 a.m.

Fire officials say power had been cut off to the building for some time. They're trying to determine if the blaze was sparked by squatters or another source. Investigators are still trying to determine in which building the fire began.

The property and building is owned by LCP Group LLC, of Anderson Road in Vestal, according to Broome County records.

A man who claimed to be the owner declined to provide his name or speak on camera, but he said he was happy no one was hurt. He also said he intended to redevelop the property before the fire broke out. He did not elaborate.

Drivers passing by got out to stop and stare throughout the night.

"It lit up the sky, it did, it truly did," said Cody Botts. "When I first saw it, it was pretty bright."

Crews from Vestal, Port Dickinson and the city of Binghamton were called at approximately 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to Montgomery Street.

Within minutes after crews arrived, the fire spread throughout the warehouse and adjacent buildings, and required additional help from Vestal and Port Dickinson, according to Binghamton Fire Chief Daniel Thomas.

"Just with the large volume of fire and really no exposures, it reached the point of just the safety of the firefighters and keeping them and the equipment back," said Thomas.

Thomas said crews were forced to take a defensive approach to fighting the fire, meaning they'll allow it to burn itself out, while ensuring it doesn't spread to other buildings. Thomas said the fire could burn well into Thursday morning.

It was the only approach, Thomas said, because of the fire's intensity and the building's location. Just one road leads to the warehouse.

Thomas also said the nearest hydrant wasn't working, which forced crews to use more than a dozen hoses to access the closest water source blocks away.

The warehouse and surrounding buildings once housed an entry in the 1979 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, according to a search on Google Books.

That entry: The world's largest chair that stood 24 feet, 9 inches tall, with a 12-foot by 11-foot seat made out of red ceder by Douglas Whitaker. The iconic symbol has been gone for decades and the building shuttered for years; a massive fire took care of the rest.

There were no injuries reported.

Thomas said there were reports of people squatting inside the building, although he said he didn't know whether there was anyone inside at the time of the fire. That could change as the investigation rolls on.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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