If a blizzard wasn’t already enough to deal with on Tuesday, Orchard Park firefighters had to contend with a blaze that destroyed an apartment building.
The fire happened around 2 p.m. Tuesday in a 12-unit apartment complex at 60 Hunters Ridge Road, which runs between Southwestern Boulevard and Baker Road.
The cause is still under investigation. The building was a total loss, said Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec.
“Everyone has been evacuated – no injuries,” said Pacholec, adding that there weren’t many occupants in the building at the time of the fire.
Firefighters, however, had a tough time battling the blaze faced with the blizzard conditions.
“We’re having a hard time, because the hoses are freezing,” the chief said Tuesday afternoon.
Orchard Park – where the snow and wind hovered much of the day – was one of the many local communities that declared a state of emergency Tuesday and issued a travel ban.
Officials continued to monitor the weather throughout the day, but anticipated the ban staying in effect through the early morning hours today.
“We would want to err on the side of caution,” said Orchard Park Supervisor Patrick Keem.
Most were abiding by the ban, Pacholec said, but there were accidents and a number of cars off the road, specifically on a stretch along Southwestern Boulevard, between Five Corners and California Drive near Ralph Wilson Stadium.
As long as the ban is in effect, Pacholec said, police may stop vehicles and ticket those motorists who shouldn’t be on the road.
George Khangi managed to make his way through the storm early Tuesday morning to open Beerz Food Shop, his store on South Buffalo Street, where people wandered in for a few of the essentials.
“I felt obligated,” Khangi said Tuesday. “If anyone needed anything, we’re here for them.”
But anyone who drove through the whiteouts knows getting anywhere wasn’t easy. Khangi had to stop several times just to orient himself on the road.
“Now,” Khangi said, “I know what they’re talking about when they say blizzard-like conditions.”