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Residents stunned by loss of ski resort

Submitted by admin on Tuesday, 1 February 2011No Comment

1296543627 81 Residents stunned by loss of ski resort

CHERRY CREEK, N.Y. (WIVB) – a devastating fire ripped through a Chautauqua County ski resort. fire crews worked throughout the night to get the fire at the Cockaigne Ski Center in Cherry Creek under control.

This fire began Monday night and continued throughout Tuesday morning. the building is still smoldering Tuesday night as hot spots continue to burn in the debris. the fire investigation unit from Chautauqua County remains at the scene, trying to figure out what happened to cause the devastating blaze.

“It’s an institution. It’s a great place for recreation,” said one resident.

A piece of southern tier history has burned to the ground.

Cockaigne Ski Resort owner Jack Vanscoter said, “Although I have sustained a loss, I consider this a huge loss to the economic vitality of the area.”

An overnight fire consumed the Main Lodge of the Cockaigne Ski Center in Cherry Creek.

“This, for sure, is one of the biggest fires Cherry Creek has had in a long time. one of the things we had, is they had the arches that are on top of the building that held up. We were real concerned over which way they were going to fall, and uh, luckily they fell in so it all worked out great,” said a fire chief at the scene.

Witnesses said they could see the flames for miles.

Don Fairbanks said, “I could see the flames from my house in Gerry when I left to come see the fire. Flames were about 100 foot above the roof.”

The wooden structure has a rich history. it was part of new York’s World Fair in the 1960’s.

“My wife and I went to the fair. We were living in the area and we went to the fair, so I have been in it. moved out to this area in 1969 and was amazed to see that the pavilion had been moved to its current site,” said a long-time Chautauqua co. resident.

On Tuesday, firefighters continued to put out hot spots and others were trying to salvage what they could from the burned-out rubble.

Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards said, “I’m looking forward to working with the Vanscoter’s to find ways to not only rebuild, but grow, because it’s a key economic generator for the southern part of Chautauqua County with over 200 employees. and so we’re fully committed to helping them in any way we can.”

For those who grew up skiing on these slopes, it was hard to watch those memories go up in smoke.

John Carson said, “Everybody has their safe havens and the places they’d like to go to, and this was just one where people gravitated to.”

It’s a place that meant a lot to a lot people. Generations of people grew up on the ski slopes, bringing their children to enjoy the facilities. it was very devastating for the community, but also devastating for those outside the area who traveled to the ski resort each year.

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