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York Road fire victims victimized again by overnight thieves

By Howard B. Owens

After losing nearly everything in a devastating fire Saturday, Bill Scheg was victimized again sometime early Sunday morning when thieves broke into what was left of his taxidermy and gun shop on York Road.

Compared to the destruction of the log-cabin type house he built himself in Le Roy, Scheg's adjacent shop was relatively untouched by the fire and still contained ammo, arrows, bows and other items.

Deputy John Duyssen said, however, that there was enough damage that it's hard to tell what was taken.

When firefighters arrived at 9616 York Road early this morning to deal with a hot spot in the basement that had rekindled, they found charred wood and shotgun shells strewn in front of the door for Scheg's business, Genesee Valley Taxidermy & Shooting Supplies.

Those items weren't there when they cleared the scene from the initial fire shortly after midnight.

Vandals also knocked over Scheg's mailbox.

"Talk about kicking a man when he's down," said Tim Yaeger, coordinator of Genesee County Emergency Management Services.

Duyssen expressed concerned that ammo from the shop had been heat and water damaged. It could misfire, and seriously injure whoever tries to use it.

Investigators were on scene this morning trying to determine the cause of the fire. 

Yaeger said the cause was apparently accidental and arson has been ruled out, but the exact cause may not be discovered until Monday or later, when investigators can gain access to the electrical panel in the basement.

The insurance company needs to pay for debris removal before investigators can get to the basement.

Meanwhile, friends of Scheg's, such as Richard Barnard pictured below, began the tedious task of recovering Scheg's decades of hunting photos, saving and preserving what they can.

All of Scheg's prized big-game trophies -- Scheg had traveled the world hunting -- were destroyed in the fire.

More pictures after the jump:

Owner who built log house loses home to fire in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens

UPDATED 11:01 p.m.

Thirty-five years ago, William Scheg built himself a dream home -- doing most of the work himself.

Out among the flat farm fields and game-rich woods of rural eastern Genesee County, Scheg build a log-cabin construction home where he would eventually open a business -- Genesee Valley Taxidermy & Shooting Supplies.

Late Saturday afternoon, Scheg was in the woods near his York Road home when a fire started in the garage.

"I heard some shots and I thought it was the neighbors target practicing," Scheg said. "Then I heard more shots and the whole woods filled up with smoke. I kind of got this empty feeling in me and thought what might be happening. I got the road and saw the inevitable. It was all on fire."

By that time, firefighters from several companies were on scene and the house was fully engulfed.

The fire was initially reported at 4:50 p.m. by Frank Capuano, a retired city firefighter who was driving down York Road and spotted smoke coming from the garage of 9616 York Road, Le Roy. Upon further investigation, he confirmed the fire and called 9-1-1.

Just five minutes earlier another man on his way to work as a clerk at a gas station on Route 5 drove by the same house -- which he knows because he's known Scheg since the clerk was a little boy -- and he didn't see a thing.

The fire was well advanced by the time crews from Le Roy Fire arrived on scene and it spread quickly as crews struggled to get a reliable source of water to fight the fire.

Tanker trucks were sent to the nearest fire hydrant, at Route 5 and York Road, two miles to the north, where they could fill up and shuttle water to the scene. Water was also drawn from the pond on the property.

Assistant Fire Chief Thomas "Woody" Woods said water supply was the biggest problem firefighters faced in battling the blaze.

There was some concern about the ammo in the gun shop when crews first arrived.

"You could hear the popping from the ammo going off, so we kept back," Woods said.

According to property tax records, the home was valued at $168,900, and was 2,070 square feet on 1.22 acres.

Scheg lived in the home with his wife Margaret. She was also out of the house at the time of the fire. Their dogs were able to get out of the house before the fire trapped them and were taken in by a neighbor. The Schegs also had some pet birds who perished in the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

As of 11 p.m., some fire crews were still on scene, though some crews were back in service.

Responding to the fire were Le Roy, Pavilion, Caledonia, York, Stafford, Bergen, and Le Roy Ambulance, Genesee County Emergency Management and the Sheriff's Office. The Town of Batavia Fire Department filled in at Le Roy's fire hall.

More pictures after the jump:

Reader Photos: York Road fire

By Howard B. Owens

Here are two photos submitted by readers on the fire on York Road. We'll have more photos and full coverage later tonight.

UPDATE: More photos after the jump, submitted by retired city firefighter Frank Capuano, initially reported the fire after seeing smoke coming from the garage.

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