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First look inside Bethlehem Steel after massive fire

Posted at 6:26 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 18:29:18-05

Piles of twisted steel sit alongside what's left of walls at the old Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna.  On Monday, for the first time, cameras were allowed inside the scene of the fire that all but destroyed the warehouses along Route 5.

"It really pains me to see it like this because I grew up about three blocks from here," said Lackawanna Mayor Geoff Szymanski.  To see it the way it is now with everything in shambles--it's really making me shake.  It really bothers me."

Szymanski lifted Lackawanna's state of emergency at 4 p.m. Monday.  Fire officials turned the scene over to the property owner at that time.  Remaining demolition will be the responsibility of the property owner.

So far, fighting the fire has cost the City of Lackawanna more than $600,000.  Szymanski said emergency demolition cost around $500,000 and another $100,000 was spent on overtime.  The figure will continue to rise as Lackawanna helps pay for medical tests for first responders, according to Szymanski.

He's hopeful New York State will help cover some of these costs.

State lawmakers at the site said they'd work to get Lackawanna and Buffalo financial help from Albany.

"We're still tallying up the cost," said Assemblyman Sean Ryan of Buffalo.  "So once we get the cost, one thing for sure is we're all committed not to leave Lackawanna in the lurch."

"We're going to be able to work to make a strong argument that the City of Lackawanna should not be left behind," said Senator Tim Kennedy of South Buffalo.  "We're going to do everything in our power to deliver for our community."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the cost of fighting this fire was in the "tens of thousands" for his city.

The Buffalo Fire Department was the lead agency on the scene and responded after a call for mutual aid was put in by Lackawanna's Fire Chief.  As an understanding of mutual aid, Brown said Buffalo will not ask Lackawanna to cover their costs associated with the fire.

As of Monday, fire officials were still investigating the cause.