As Phoenicia's Key Bank fire reignites, investigators silent on cause

This story has been updated with information from fire investigators. See bottom for new info. - Ed. 

The Key Bank building on Main Street Phoenicia that burned on Monday, Feb. 16 reignited briefly on Thursday, Feb. 19, prompting firefighters to respond to reports of smoke rising from the burnt-out structure, according to the Daily Freeman and sources at the scene. The re-ignition happened just before another fire began at a trailer nearby on Old Route 28, forcing firefighters to respond to both. 

Town and county officials have not released the results of the investigation into the cause of the fire at Key Bank, and have not responded to repeated requests by the Watershed Post about whether arson is suspected. 

Drez Jennings, a Vice President at Key Bank, said that the bank could not comment on the cause of the Key Bank fire or the fire's re-ignition.

Jennings released a statement on Friday, Feb. 20 from the bank regarding its plans to reopen and rebuild. According to the statement, the bank was allowed access to the scene of the fire on Thursday, Feb. 19, and will conduct its own investigation before making plans for the future. According to the statement, the assets of the bank's clients are intact. 

Here is the Key Bank statement in full: 

First, we want to thank the community for its support and concern expressed in the wake of the fire that severely damaged our branch.

We know our clients have questions about our plans for the branch. We understand that concern and are grateful for our clients’ patience. We were just given access to the branch building Thursday so we can assess the damage and other factors that will help us determine next steps. We are obtaining expert opinion from third parties so we have a complete understanding of the damage done by the fire.  

Most of all, right now we are focused on our clients – making sure they know their assets are secure and advising them of alternatives for their banking needs. We expect clients with safe deposit boxes will have access to their belongings within the next few weeks. Before we can provide that access, however, we need to ensure the building is safe.

As we are in the very early stages of assessing the damage to the building and gathering information, we are not setting a timetable for next steps.  We appreciate our clients’ patience and again thank them for their support.

Update: The town of Shandaken Police Department issued a statement at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 20 stating that the cause of the fire appears to be accidental. Here's the statement in full:

The Town of Shandaken Police Department report that the investigation to the fire that occurred Monday night at The KeyBank located at #53 Main Street, Phoenicia is almost completed.  Numerous people were interviewed and the fire is not deemed to be suspicious or an arson.  Police state after a joint investigation with the Ulster County Fire Investigation Unit, police believe the fire was started in the area of the ceiling rafters believed to be due to an "unspecified electrical event within the building."