STORY, VIDEO AND PHOTOS by JOHN ANDERSON
Attorney Mike Finn was not prepared for a barrage of texts and phone calls from his co-workers on Saturday afternoon. The calls turned into Facetime video as he watched his building on 22 West State Street burn.
Finn’s first concern was the person in the upstairs apartment who jumped from the fire and was taken to the hospital in Wellsville and later to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
On Sunday, he showed up with a truck and a flatbed to move paperwork and equipment from the Hutter & Finn law offices. He could not believe the damage and he could not believe how much information was saved. The office currently handles real estate transactions, estates, wills and power of attorney, but there are years of other legal cases as well.
(Story continues after video of cleanup from Sunday and a look at part of the fire Saturday)
“The fire department did an unbelievable job. I saw pictures of the blaze, and the fact the entire building and the neighboring properties were not fully engulfed is a testament to their skill, knowledge and expertise. That is astounding to me,” Finn said. “Then, coupled with the fact this is a volunteer force, that is so impressive to me.”
As Finn was amazed to see the lack of damage, the help started arriving.
First it was Sandee Fanton, an employee of over 30 years, who alerted Finn to the fire and was at the scene. Then several volunteer firefighters showed up. Even Wellsville Town Supervisor Shad Alsworth showed up to help.
“Sandee Fanton has dedicated her life to serving the legal clients to Bob Hutter and myself for over 30 years,” Finn said. “There is no one more dedicated to the legal profession than her. She was heartbroken on Saturday and she was there at the crack of dawn on Sunday to help and was helping at the Solutions Hub. Debbie Ramsey also works there and she was helping as well.
“People were stopping by to help … They just showed up to help,” Finn continued. “They showed up with trailers. It’s such a testament to the community. Shad Alsworth stopped by with some of his personal equipment to help move large filing cabinets. Chris Martelle (town emergency services coordinator) was there all night and helped. Brandon Harris who was there all day fighting the fire stopped to help.
“Countless other volunteer firefighters stopped to help and make sure the community is safe as they picked up debris and other unsafe objects. It reminded me what a wonderful place Wellsville and Allegany County is,” Finn added
Then there is Solutions Hub. Shane Allen, the owner of Computer Solutions on Main Street, is working with the Wellsville Sun on an announcement he purchased the old Super Duper and Allegany Arc Antoon building on 36 Madison Street. It will be a work hub for businesses, individuals and much more.
Allen is still in the renovation stages, but sped up work to have a spot for Finn to continue his legal work.
“Shane Allen at Solutions Hub is going to bring us to state-of-the -art electronically as well as state-of-the-art with a building so we can better serve our clients,” Finn said.
Finn hopes to have the office open on Tuesday or Wednesday. The email is the same (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the phone number will remain the same (585-593-3341), but that will be a few days as new phone systems are set up.
The customers of the law office should not be worried about their legal documents, Finn said.
“I would say the vast, vast majority of documents and files were completely fine,” Finn said. “The current files we were working on are waterlogged, but most of those have been shared with other attorney’s offices electronically. Even though they are waterlogged, they are easily reproduced.”
Finn, who owns the building, said he understands the history behind it.
“I could tell when clients came in, they would reference Dr. Comstock’s office, the probation department and the counseling center. The building had a lot of history,” he said.
It appears the building is a total loss. With the village moving offices to the 23 North Main Building, this could help free up more parking. Pizza King, Sugar Daddy’s and the Wellsville Community Garden are also popular spots as that portion of Main Street in Wellsville continues to grow.
“Depending on what the insurance company decides to do with the building, this could help with some of the parking problems in the village,” Finn said. “I don’t know what is going to happen but that was part of the conversation with some of the people who stopped in to help.”
Our coverage from the fire on Saturday and a photo gallery below from Sunday: