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Lockport tire plant fire declared "out"

Posted at 6:31 PM, Aug 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-13 18:31:47-04

City of Lockport Fire Chief Patrick Brady declared the fire at a tire recycling plant "out" Saturday afternoon.  It had been burning since early Wednesday evening.

The mandatory evacuation notice was lifted Friday at 7 P.M., but crews continued to battle the fire all night long.  Brady explained they needed to shift around debris to find and extinguish all parts of the fire.

Saturday morning was the first chance many neighbors got to actually see the aftermath of the massive fire.

"This is our first time, we just came back." Denise Artieri said.  She and her family live on Stevens St. and couldn't believe their eyes.  "I really have no words.  This is like a warzone."

Lawrence Senko's backyard runs right up against the High Tread International plant.  By the time he noticed the fire, it had already started to burn his picket fence.

"People were running up and down the street," he said.  "All of a sudden the firemen started showing up.  I came back here to look and the whole yard was on fire."

Residents were soon forced to evacuate, given just minutes to grab important items.  For almost 48 hours, several roads closest to the fire were under a mandatory evacuation.

Senko was able to stay with friends.  Artieri was able to stay with family.  Michael and Annette Meyers of Webb St. were lucky they had a camper parked at Michael's parent's house.

Annette, like many others in the neighborhood, was worried the fire might spread and burn down homes.

"Not knowing what was going on, what we were going to come home to," she said, describing how difficult the past few days were.  "Not being able to come home."

At one point, Senko tried to return to see if his home had survived.  He reached a police barrier and feared the worst.

"I could only come so far, to a stopping point.  I thought I actually had lost the entire house," he said.

That's when Senko found out no homes or structures in the neighborhood had been seriously damaged at all.

"I am indebted to the firefighters.  They saved my property," he said.

That's a sentiment shared by many living near the tire plant.

"I can't thank the firemen enough, because I didn't think some of these houses and garages would be here," Artieri said.

"The firefighters did an amazing job," Annette Meyers explained.  "Amazing.  I'm very thankful."

A benefit is scheduled for Thursday, August 18 at Windsor Village on Stevens St.  It's also a thank you to firefighters and first responders.  All money raised will go to helping neighbors impacted by the fire.