Apalachin Community Press, July 2000

Fire Destroys Riverow Building
extinguished Saturday morning     building was demolished on Sunday

An early morning fire in Owego destroyed an historic Riverow building at 200-204 Front Street occupied by The Cracker Barrel, The Laughing Place, and apartments. The fire started shortly before 1:30 am on Saturday, July 1, in a rear, third floor apartment at 204 Front Street. The fire extended into 200 and 202 Front Street (the one building has three addresses) through the roof/attic area. 

According to Tioga County Fire Investigator Frank Okrasinski, the fire was caused by an electrical appliance. "Due to the vast amount of cooperation and mutual aid between the fire departments of Broome and Tioga Counties, the Windham Center (Pennsylvani) Fire Department, the New York State Police, and the Village of Owego Police, the fire was contained to that one building," said Okrasinski.

The building at 206 Front Street had a common door with 204 Front Street which increased the danger of the fire spreading. Firefighters ventilated the roof in 206 Front Street to contain the fire.

The fire was extinguished by late Saturday morning, but rekindled a couple of times overnight. The upper floors of the building collapsed into the Cracker Barrel on the first floor. What was left of the building was demolished on Sunday.

All residents of 200-204 Front Street were evacuated by the Village of Owego Police and the NYS Police. Twelve people are homeless. There were no injuries.

Owners of The Cracker Barrel, Roger and Linda Besser, stated that they would like to rebuild at the same location. The Laughing Place is planning to reopen on Lake Street.