MILO — Observant neighbors and a quick response by the Penn Yan Fire Department are credited with keeping a blaze at a longtime local business from becoming more than minor.
Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike said the fire at Penn Yan Aeronautical Service, on Bath Road just south of the Penn Yan village limits, was reported about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in a 911 call. Responding deputies arrived to find smoke and flames coming from the southeast corner of the building at the Penn Yan-Yates County Airport.
The Penn Yan Fire Department responded quickly, getting mutual aid from the Benton, Himrod and Dundee fire departments. Officers from the Penn Yan Police Department also responded as well as Penn Yan Ambulance, but there were no injuries.
Spike said the damage appears to be minimal, and the exact cause is under investigation.
Commonly known as Penn Yan Aero, the business was started in 1945 by Harold “Eagle” Middlebrook, a World War II flight instructor and charter member of the Penn Yan Flying Club, which is near Penn Yan Aero.
Middlebrook’s son, Daryl, took over the business in 1966 and turned it into what has become one of the premier aircraft engine overhaul and maintenance facilities in the world. He also grew the company from a handful of employees to about 40.
Daryl Middlebrook was the company president until 2006, when his son Bill took over.
In an email, Bill Middlebrook said while the cause is still under investigation, the fire likely started when a hot pipe near a test cell ignited inside a wall.
“Damage was minimal due to observant neighbors and one amazing emergency response team in Yates County,” Middlebrook said. “Penn Yan Aero is open and fully operational.”