‘The Dark Horse fire,” Oneonta’s retiring fire chief, Pat Pidgeon, immediately responded when asked about the worst blaze he tackled in 36 years with the OFD.
Pidgeon was strapped into the jump seat of the fire engine as it arrived around 5 a.m. March, 1, 1992, at 18 Market St.
“There was an explosion,” he said. He looked over his shoulder. “A beam blew out, and landed on a line of cars. I knew it was going to be a long night.”
The site was what’s now that parking lot a couple of buildings east of the Green Earth health food market. Also on fire was the attached J.J. Maloney Building, a candy distributorship at 12-14 Market.
Pidgeon and Bobby Russo, his crew captain and brother of Fire Chief Francis “Cootie” Russo, set up a 2½-inch hose at the hydrant at today’s Cooper Fox, at the back end of Clinton Plaza.
“I remember the blue flames from all the alcohol that was burning,” he recalled.
At one point, as the fire appeared very close to a neighboring apartment house, he and Russo hammered on the doors of apartments in the building, awakening college coeds and protecting them with their shields as the girls hurried to safety.
VIRTUAL TOUR – 2 p.m. Zoom meeting featuring walk through of exhibit ‘Decking The Halls’ with discussion of the artifacts followed by live Q&A with Manager of Arts Education, Kevin Gray. Free, registration required. Suggested donation $5. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
ART TALK – 2 p.m. ‘Winter in the Arkell Museum Permanent Collection’ discussion with curator Mary Alexander. Learn how winter is portrayed in works by Walter Launt Palmer, Edward Redfield, many others in permanent collection. Free Zoom conference. Presented by Arkell Museum. 518-673-2314 ext. 113 or visit www.arkellmuseum.org/events-calendar
GINGERBREAD JUBILEE – 1 – 4 p.m. View gingerbread houses by area individuals, businesses. This years theme is your favorite movie. May the best house win. Atrium, Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit www.foothillspac.org
MUSIC FESTIVAL – 8 p.m. Honest Brook Music Festival winter season concludes with Tesla String Quartet. Cost, $30/person at-door. Stamford United Methodist Church, 88 Main St., Stamford. 607-746-3770 or visit hbmf.org
MUSICAL PROGRAM – 6:30 p.m. Mezzo Soprano Joelle Lachance performs musical works about love, accompanied by CHS pianist Tim Iversen. Free, open to public. Woodside Hall, 1 Main St., Cooperstown. Advanced reservations recommended. Info, 607-547-0600, ext. 101
VIGIL – 6:30 p.m. Take Back The Night recognizes the rights of those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. March, followed by a candlelight vigil. Milne Library, SUNY Oneonta. Info, (607) 433-8013.
TRIVIA BINGO – 7 p.m. Test your knowledge of history with the League of Women Voters in a trivia contest. Prizes, snacks available. Cooperstown Fire Hall, 24 Chestnut St., Cooperstown. Info, email@example.com
DINNER – Spaghetti fundraiser for a scholarship in honor of former Oneonta fire fighter John Heller. Reservations Required. $10 adults, $5 children. 6th Ward Athletic Club, 22 West Broadway, Oneonta. Info, firstname.lastname@example.org