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Clearing of Williston Park business district fire site begins

Contractors work on clearing the remaining debris, on

Contractors work on clearing the remaining debris, on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 in Williston Park, on the site left over from a 5 alarm fire which destroyed 5 buildings. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An excavator has begun clearing the site of a summer fire that raced through five buildings in a Williston Park business district.

Work is expected to end by this weekend on Willis Avenue, where a five-alarm fire ravaged the area July 24.

"What was left was that some of the buildings had been taken down with their foundations left in place, and there were others with some fire damage," Mark Granata, an owner of Sound Beach-based Horizon Contracting Services LLC, explained Tuesday in a telephone interview.

The cleanup started Monday, and the project will include razing the boarded-up Williston Plumbing and Hair Junkie salon buildings and a neighboring dental office damaged by smoke and water.

The Place Bar, S & F Shoe Repair and a laundry were torn down the day of the early morning fire.

"We're removing all the debris," Granata said. He added the hole left after the foundation and rubble are removed will be backfilled with soil. "It will basically make it unimproved land again."

After this weekend, Granata said, his company will huddle with local officials to plan the removal of temporary wire fencing along the curb of the site and the repair of damaged sidewalks.

Granata said the fencing would likely be moved back to the interior portion of the sidewalk so the sidewalks can again be fully accessed.

"All of the businesses are on board" with the cleanup, Mayor Paul Ehrbar said Tuesday in a telephone interview. He said the businesses' insurance companies would be billed for the work, but the village had not calculated an overall cost of the project.

"It moved quicker than we anticipated," Ehrbar said. "All of the property owners were very cooperative and worked as a group."

He said no plans have been finalized for the future of the properties. Owners have not publicly expressed their intentions.

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