Land-based Buffalo firefighters were unable to battle a blaze at the top of a grain elevator on the city’s waterfront Monday night, so the department’s rarely used Edward M. Cotter fireboat was called into service.
“We couldn’t get to the fire by land. There was no way to access it, so we called up the fireboat to get water on it,” Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. said Tuesday.
The former grain elevator complex, known as the Concrete Central Elevator, at 750 Ohio St., was abandoned years ago. On a remote section of land, bordered on one side by the Buffalo River, it is linked to the mainland by railroad bridges.
Firefighters who initially responded in fire trucks at 7:02 p.m. and at 8:38 p.m. called in the Cotter. All fire equipment was picked up from the scene at 11:42 p.m. No damage estimate was listed, and no injuries were reported, Whitfield said.
It is believed that wood caught fire atop the elevator, though a cause for the blaze has not been determined.
Requesting the Cotter to assist at a fire, the commissioner said, is a rare occurrence these days, compared with decades ago, when the waterfront thrived with warehouses and other mercantile enterprises.
“It doesn’t happen very often with structures along the waterfront, but with the waterfront’s resurgence, we believe the Edward M. Cotter fireboat will be a resource we’re glad we have,” Whitfield said.
Abandoned since 1966, Concrete Central is the largest of the grain elevators along the Buffalo River. The elevator, built from 1915 to 1917, is a quarter-mile long, and when it was finished, it was the biggest transfer elevator in the world.
The facility had the capacity to store 4½ million bushels of grain. A decade ago, the elevator was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Coincidentally, in 1996, the Edward M. Cotter was designated a National Historic Landmark.