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Ammunition explodes in gun shop fire in Dryden

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Fire crews fill collapsible water retention pools as a team from Cortlandville Fire and Rescue, left, carry a rescue sled to the scene of a fire Friday at Boltworks Tactical Firearms on Beam Hill Road in Dryden.

DRYDEN — The sound of gunshots rang out and a plume of smoke wafted late Friday afternoon above BoltWorks, a gun manufacturer in Dryden, after a fire broke out in the business.

Fire departments responded to the call of a fire shortly before 4 p.m. at 129 Beam Hill Road. The business makes and sells firearms, and sells ammunition.

Jerry Little, 111 Beam Hill Road, said he saw an ambulance drive up the street about 3:50 p.m.

“I thought it was a medical issue, but then I started hearing multiple gun shots, rapid fire, and then they (firefighters) showed up,” he said outside his home as emergency crews worked at the fire scene.

Little said his wife, who was driving from Cortlandville, could see the smoke in the distance. Smoke was also visible about four miles away from Route 13 near the Tompkins Cortland Community College main campus in the village of Dryden.

Several buildings occupy the property, but it was unclear which were on fire.

The owner reported a structure fire to Tompkins County Public Safety at 3:53 p.m., said Tompkins County dispatcher Ron Goosen.

No injuries were reported, Goosen said.

Eileen Coller, who identified herself as a friend of the owner, said the business was closed for the day when the fire broke out.

Fire tankers shuttled water to two portable, collapsible ponds set up on Beam Hill Road after drawing it from a hydrant in the village and other sources.

Dryden Deputy Fire Chief Mark Bell coordinated the tanker effort at the scene while Jereme Stiles, an assistant chief of the Virgil Fire Department, coordinated the tankers.

A front-end loader was brought to the site about 5:20 p.m. As of 5:45 p.m., the fire had yet to be reported under control.

The owner, Jamie Arnold, and several workers declined to comment.

Firefighters were called in from Cortlandville, Etna, Dryden, Freeville, Groton, Harford, Homer, Lansing, Locke, McLean, Varna and Virgil, Goosen said. The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and state police was also called to the scene. A Tompkins County vehicle that replenishes air tanks for firefighters was brought to the site.

BoltWorks started with a fundraiser in 2010, its website states.

“Though we were building out of our home for many years prior to that, the response by many in our community, in regards to the rifle, was overwhelming,” Arnold writes.

The company possesses a class 07 license from the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which certifies it as a manufacturer of firearms, other than destructive devices. The website notes the businesses typically stocks more than 150 handguns, as well as long-guns, both new and used.
It also sells ammunition.

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