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Body found in debris of Lockport fire

Posted at 11:05 AM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 07:28:19-04

Lockport Police announced Friday night they had located the remains of a body within the debris of the Stevens Street fire.

Investigators say they found the body just after 6 p.m. It will be taken to the Erie County Medical Examiner's Officer for further examination.

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"It's a tragedy to have a loss of life as a result of this fire," said Lockport Mayor Ann McCaffrey. "We express our deepest sympathy.  My heart goes out to the family."

McCaffrey announced earlier in the day that were treating the fire at the High Tread International plant as a crime scene. She said police are doing so because a teenager who lives in the neighborhood is missing.

Joe Phillips, 14, hasn't been seen since before the fire began Wednesday around 7 p.m. Phillips' mother told 7 Eyewitness News she fears he may have been trapped inside the factory after the fire began.

It is unclear at this time whether the body found is that of the teenager.

As the investigation continues, residents living off of West Avenue, Ohio Street and South New York Street have been allowed to return to their homes. Residents living on Webb, S. Bristol, Bacon, Sunnyside, Windsor, and Prospect returned at 7 p.m. Friday.

Stevens Street is open to residents, however no one is allowed to park on that street. 

Lockport officials say they do not expect the evacuation orders to change until Saturday.

The fire has been contained and is under control. However, crews remain on the scene, battling hot spots in the heat and humidity.

The fire appears to have originated in a large three-story building that processes old and used tires into a fine rubber power. The building's first floor is thought to have contained ample amounts of the by product. Firefighters found this building fully engulfed in flames when they first arrived on scene.