Search warrant served in connection with deadly Holiday Inn fire in 1978

Posted at: 10/31/2013 11:13 AM
Updated at: 10/31/2013 6:16 PM

It's a case News10NBC has been tracking for years and we have major developments to tell you about in the deadly 1978 Holiday Inn fire in Greece. Police spent the day searching a Greece fire station for evidence. 

Ten people died in the fire, which was ruled an arson. In recent years, Greece Police have redoubled their efforts to solve this case. On Thursday, they came armed with a search warrant for the Ridge Road station.

When Greece Police decided to take a fresh look at this cold case two years ago, they labeled fire chief Harold “Bud” Phillips a “person of interest”. On Thursday, they executed a search warrant and collected evidence at the fire station.

Captain Patrick Phelan, Greece Police, said, “ We have reasonable cause to believe that there is evidence here that's related to the murder investigation."

I-Team 10 was first on the scene Thursday morning when a task force of federal, state and local investiators came and went from the two fire station buildings on Long Pond Road. They took photographs and searched through office files. What they were looking for and what they collected, police would not say.   

It was November 26, 978 at 2:30 a.m. when heavy smoke and flames filled the hotel which was full of sleeping guests that night. Ten people died. The cause of the fire was determined to be arson, but as of today, no one has been held accountable. Much of this investigation has focused on the statements of a young firefighter who was off duty that night and called in to report the fire saying he saw the flames while driving by. That firefighter was Bud Phillips, now the chief.

Bud Phillips, in 1978, said, "When I first arrived I saw flames coming out the west side of the building."

Over the years, I-Team 10 brought you many follow up and behind the scene reports. Police say they have been running down hundreds of leads, one of which led them here today.

Phelan said, "It's one of the most horrific crimes that ever occurred in the town of Greece. Ten people were murdered in a pretty grisly fashion. So it's a cloud that hangs over the town of Greece and it's a case that we'd love to solve and make an arrest in."

Phillips was not at the fire station when police arrived Thursday. I-Team 10 spoke with him by phone Thursday afternoon. He declined an on-camera interview but said he has never once been asked by police to answer any questions about the case, so he was surprised that they showed up to search his fire station. He says his department has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the police investigation.