Posted at: 11/26/2013 4:39 PM
Updated at: 11/26/2013 5:54 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
It was 35 years ago Tuesday that the Holiday Inn went up in flames in the middle of the night, killing 10 people. Investigators ruled it an arson. On the anniversary of that tragedy, the cousin of one of those victims talks about the case.
Barb Gallagher says she is grateful that the victims of the Holiday Inn fire are not being forgotten. Gallagher lives in Irondequoit. She says she will never forget the night the fire broke out in the hotel 35 years ago. That's because her cousin, Nancy Springer-Garrett, was staying at the Holiday Inn that night and died as a result of the fire.
Twenty six-year-old Springer-Garrett had come up from Florida with her father to visit family and friends and had just arrived in town. Her body was found in the hallway of the burned out hotel. Springer-Garrett's father, Jerry, survived that night.
The case has been ruled an arson, but no one has ever been held accountable. Two years ago, the Greece Police Department decided to re-open the case. Late last month, they executed a search warrant at the Ridge Road Fire Station and collected evidence. That station is headed by fire chief Harold Bud Phillips, who was off-duty the night of the fire, but happened to be driving by and called it in. Police have called Phillips a person of interest.
As for Gallagher, she says she remains hopeful that the case will one day be solved.
Barb Gallagher said, “I think there's probably a lot of information that's out there that, whether it's a firefighter or people in the community, plus the fact that technology has changed so much in the past 35 years that you would think there would be something that would be able to point in the direction of the responsibility."
As for Phillips, he says it is his belief the fire was accidental, not arson. He told News10NBC last week that he is tired of all the scrutiny, but says he knows he did the right thing in calling in the fire and would do it again, even though it has thrust him into the police investigation.