Apple cooler and crop destroyed in Clintondale fire

The remains of the A. Zimmerman Orchards warehouse. (photo by Al Alexsa)

The remains of the A. Zimmerman Orchards warehouse. (photo by Al Alexsa)

An early morning fire, fanned by frigid winds, brought fire fighters from three counties out in an attempt to save the A. Zimmerman Orchards cooler last Saturday. Freezing temperatures and propane tanks in the facility ultimately made that task impossible, and both the building and millions-of-dollars worth of stored apples and equipment were considered a total loss.

The cold storage facility, located near Apple Greens Golf Course at 310 Station Road, caught fire in the early morning hours on January 10. Clintondale assistant fire chief Rick Brooks reported that the building was “fully involved” when his company responded to the 3:47 a.m. call. A light wind was fanning the flames, and firefighters found that their equipment was freezing in the nine-degree air, so additional help was needed. Twenty fire companies from Ulster, Orange and Dutchess counties either responded directly to the scene or were on standby at nearby firehouses.


While firefighters were rotating out trucks that had frozen up outside, the propane tanks used in the cold storage facility were heating up. Brooks said that he believed there were at least seven explosions during the course of the blaze, which wasn’t brought under control until about eight o’clock in the morning. He said that the cooler had been full of apples at the time and estimated the loss at “millions of dollars.”  The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

A. Zimmerman Orchards has been in operation since 1952, and farmer Marty Zimmerman lives near the cooler, but, luckily, his house was not damaged in the fire.