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City of Lackawanna exploring legal options over recurring fires at old Bethlehem Steel site

Posted at 4:26 AM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 18:37:52-04

Mayor Geoff Szymanski told 7Eyewitness News he is "reviewing with the legal department" what options the city can take following another fire at the Old Bethlehem Steel plant site off Ridge Road.

Fire Chief Ralph Galanti said this was the third fire at Zoladz Construction Company's C&D Processing Facility in the past two years.

A large pile of wood chips caught fire overnight Wednesday causing a blanket of smoke to loft over South Buffalo.

Fire crews responded around 1:30 a.m. Thursday and had a crew on scene for spot fires.  Fire officials called Zoladz Construction and the company brought in personnel and equipment to put the fire out.  Chief Galanti released a statement to 7Eyewitness News.

"We were lucky the wind was to the north/northeast.  This kept heavy black smoke away from residential areas which could have cause problems for people with respiratory diseases.  The site is regulated and monitored by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure no hazardous materials are in the piles, only natural wood products."

A spokesperson with the DEC said Zoladz reported the incident and "is in the process of working to develop management procedures that will be initiated at the site to prevent incidents like this in the future".  The fire is still being investigated by the DEC.

The pile on fire was about the size of a football field.  The smoke from the fire lofted over South Buffalo for most of the overnight.

Firefighters do not have access to fire hydrants on the site and will have to haul water in to extinguish the fire.

This isn't the first time a fire like this has broken out on the site. Back in February a similar issue happened.

This site is used by Zoladz Construction as a construction and demolition debris processing facility.  The facility can grind or chip wood debris, railroad ties, and other creosote treated lumber for use as an alternative fuel in permitted power plants. The plant was designed to process 1,000 tons per day according to a DEC permit obtained by 7 Eyewitness News.