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Oneida: No cause yet in City Lanes fire

Firefighter Mitch Dryer, injured when a roof collapsed on him in the April 22 blaze that leveled City Lanes, underwent surgery Friday to evaluate damage to his arm.

"They are checking to see how much damage there is and to get a better idea of what they will do down the road," said Oneida Fire Chief Donald Hudson from SUNY Upstate Medical University Friday.

He said the road from rescue to recovery is a daunting one, but he is thankful so far.

"Once the mayday went out, I ordered everyone out of the building so we could get a head count and figure out who was missing," Hudson said. "It was touch and go. I was very reluctant to send anyone back in there, for fear of losing a lot more. Then Dep. Chief [Jim] Dowd said 'The guys are pretty sure we can get him out of there.' 'Then go get him,' I said."

Hudson said about a dozen firefighters re-entered the building.

"Four of them were directly involved in the rescue effort, digging Mitch out," Hudson said. "The others were manning hoses to keep the fire off of them."

Hudson said Dryer was unconscious when his colleagues brought him out of the building.

"We got his gear off and got his mask off, and he took a couple of little breaths," Hudson said. "Then he took a deep breath, opened his eyes and looked around. We were very hopeful."

Hudson said the state has wrapped up its portion of the investigation, but as of 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oneida City Police investigators had not yet finished their work. No determination of the cause has been established yet.

Hudson said Dryer still is in a coma but that his family is holding up well.

"Every day is a better one," Hudson said. "One day closer to recovery."

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