There are major developments in the investigation of the 1978 Holiday Inn fire in Greece. It was 36 years ago today that flames spread through the hotel, killing 10 guests.

There are major developments in the investigation of the 1978 Holiday Inn fire in Greece. It was 36 years ago today that flames spread through the hotel, killing 10 guests.

The fire was ruled an arson and today, for the first time, police are telling our news partner, News10NBC they have a suspect.

Chief Patrick Phelan says they hope to hand over their evidence to the District Attorney’s office in the next couple of months. Asked if that meant police have a suspect, Phelan said, “Yes. That would be correct.” Phelan would not identify the suspect in the case. “There’s identified investigative steps that have to be finished and that’s what they’re working on right now. And we hope to be able to do that relatively soon,” added Phelan.

Police re-launched the cold case investigation just over three years ago, putting together a task force of investigators from Greece, ATF and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Since then, they have been re-examining the case file and have re-interviewed hundreds of witnesses.

On the night of November 26, 1978, the Holiday Inn on West Ridge Road was full with 200 sleeping guests, including a Canadian tour group in town on a shopping trip. The fire was discovered by Harold “Bud” Phillips, an off-duty firefighter who said he was driving by and noticed the flames coming from the back of the hotel.

Police have said Phillips, now the chief of the Ridge Road Fire District, was a person of interest who they would like to question as part of the revived investigation but Phelan says recent efforts to speak with Phillips have been unsuccessful. “As part of the investigation, we’ve asked Mr. Phillips to come in for an interview and thus far he has refused through an attorney,” he said.

Calls to Phillips for comment were not immediately returned but in May 2011, Phillips indicated he was eager to cooperate. He told News10NBC, “As the chief of the Ridge Road Fire District, I’m supportive of opening the investigation again. It’s been opened a couple times. I support them looking at it again, and as I did in 1978, I, as well as the department, will fully cooperate with them.”

In recent months, the case had seemingly gone quiet. The last major development came in October 2013 when police secured a search warrant and raided the Ridge Road firehouse. Today Phelan was asked about the search. “We retrieved a large number of documents and that took a long time to go through. So that was part of the reason you didn’t hear anything afterwards,” he said. Phelan said some of the documents have proven useful in the investigation

In the meantime, the families of the victims continue to wait for answers.

Brian Sundue of Canada lost his mother, grandmother and aunt in the Holiday Inn Fire. On a Facebook page dedicated to providing information and support about the case, Sundue today posted, “36 years and counting…will we ever see justice done in this case...??!!

Messenger Post Media, along with our news partner, News10NBC will continue to follow this developing story.