Chief Bud Phillips talks about investigation into Holiday Inn fire

Posted at: 11/14/2013 10:40 PM
Updated at: 11/14/2013 11:26 PM

The Ridge Road Fire Chief spoke to News10NBC on camera for the first time, since police executed a search warrant at the fire station he heads up.

Investigators say they searched the fire station last month because they had a reasonable belief there was evidence related to a deadly fire decades ago.

10 people died in the fire at the Holiday Inn in Greece back in November of 1978.

The cause was ruled an arson, but it has remained unsolved. Much of the investigation has focused on the statements of a young firefighter, Harold "Bud" Phillips.

Phillips was off duty the night of the fire, and called in to report it saying he saw flames while driving by. Police have called him a person of interest in the case.

Now, Phillips is the chief of the Ridge Road Fire District, and last month, federal, state and local investigators executed a search warrant at the two fire station buildings on Long Pond Road. 

Thursday night, for the first time, Chief Phillips told us a little more about what police took from the fire hall when they searched it for evidence last month.

Phillips told Amanda Ciavarri police took incident reports from the fire, and also computer discs. Phillips says he doesn't know why they would take the discs, because back in 1978 they used type writers, not computers.

News10NBC asked Chief Bud Phillips, if being named a person of interest in the case, impacts his ability to be fire chief. 

“There is no doubt that it does have an effect on my day to day operation but as I contended from the beginning I did the right thing and I would do the same thing tomorrow," said Phillips.

Amanda Ciavarri then asked how the chief how he feels about being named a person of interest.

"I was the first person that did call the fire in, and ya know I’ve been in this business for a long time. But the part that I do not like is that they are classifying me as a young firefighter, at that time I had been on the job for 10 years and was a lieutenant, so I was a well seasoned firefighter."

Earlier today news10nbc spoke to the Greece Police Chief, who said he is encouraged because he says they found evidence they're interested in during that search. Chief Todd Baxter now puts their chances of solving this cold case at 50 percent.