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Greece Police re-investigating deadly 1978 hotel fire
Greece, N.Y. - Greece Police confirmed Thursday several agencies are involved in the search of the Greece Ridge Fire Department related to the 1978 Holiday Inn fire that killed 10 people.
The Greece Police Department executed a search warrant Thursday morning and is the lead agency in the investigation. They are being assisted by the ATF, FBI, New York State Police, and the Monroe County District Attorney's office.
The search started 9:30 a.m. and was expected to take about four hours, went on for several more hours. The office of Fire Chief Bud Phillips and other buildings on the fire department's property are being included in the search.
The fire happened November 26, 1978 at 2:30 a.m. The hotel was packed with 200 guests. As they slept, someone set a fire in the first floor stairway. Ten people died and another 34 were injured.
Now, 35 years later, there are renewed efforts to find the person who set the fire. Police will also look at a number of arsons in the months before the deadly fire. Two of those fires were set near the Old Britton Road School.
Thursday, Greece Police Captain Pat Phelan said these victims were murdered and the hope is this information will help find who set this fire.
Phillips wasn't there during the search.
Police have called him a person of interest in the fatal fire. He was the first to respond and to report the fire. Phillips was a Fire Lieutenant in the Greece Fire Department, but was off-duty when the fire started. He told investigators then that he saw the flames as he drove by the hotel, which was located on West Ridge Road. It has since been torn down.
Phillips was questioned back then but never named by police as a suspect. He told 13WHAM in a 2011 interview that he had nothing to do with the fire, and that he tried to save people as they jumped out windows to escape the flames.
Police finished the search late Thursday afternoon, carrying bags and boxes of evidence out of the fire department.
Captain Phelan said no arrests are expected in the near future.
He told us the families of the victims and people in Greece deserve to know who set this fire and why.
He called it the most horrific tragedy in the town of Greece.