Worker’s wayward sparks torched Frankfort factory

VILLAGE OF FRANKFORT — The massive fire at the former Union Tools in Herkimer County Wednesday was accidentally caused by wayward sparks from a worker’s tool.

Fire officials said contractors were stripping metal and other materials out of one of the buildings as part of the ongoing demolition process. They were grinding metal in the floor when sparks caught other nearby materials on fire. The flames then quickly spread, engulfing a total of 12 buildings across the entire complex.

The contractors fled the building and called 9-1-1 at around 1:30 p.m. More than two dozens volunteer fire departments responded to the scene, and battled the quickly growing blaze for several hours. Officials said they then spent several more hours into Thursday dousing hot spots and sifting through the debris.

Union Tools, formerly Union Fork & Hoe, has been out of operation since 2006. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said the site has been undergoing asbestos abatement over the past month, and that several of the buildings were being stripped of materials before they will be completely torn down later this month.