LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – Fire crews are still at work at the site of the High Tread International tire shredding plant, which has been burning since Wednesday evening.
The fire was declared under control Thursday afternoon, and some of the residents who had been evacuated from their nearby homes were allowed to return to their houses. Most evacuated residents had to spend a second night with friends or in shelters, waiting for the mandatory evacuation order to be lifted for all of the streets.
It’s a tough wait for some, who are anxious to see how their homes fared. “I do actually have a friend who lives on Baltimore that came up to check on her home that is directly across from the fire zone. And it looks good,” said Lockport resident Laurie Lombardi as she prepared to send a photo of the house to her friend, showing it was undamaged.
Laurie Lombardi lives a couple blocks away from the fire scene and was picking up fire debris from her own yard Friday morning, with the smell of smoke still lingering in the air there.
Even though the smoke Friday was much lighter than what people in the area saw over the course of the last day and a half, it’s still cause for concern for some. “Although they say it’s not toxic, it still is disconcerting to be breathing that,” Lombardi said.
Breathing any smoke – toxic or not – can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions, like asthma. News 4 spoke to a local woman Friday morning whose daughter was in the ICU at the hospital in Lockport. The woman said her daughter has asthma and had to be put on a respirator because of the smoke.
The Health Department has said the air quality is satisfactory in Lockport, but the smoke was the big reason for the mandatory evacuation of houses on nine streets in the surrounding neighborhood. “100 percent makes sense,” Lombardi said, when asked about the evacuation order.
Safety had to be the top priority for the community in making the call to evacuate, and it’s a top priority for all of the firefighters – representing 40 different agencies across three counties – who have been helping in the ongoing battle against the flames. “My thanks goes out to each and every one of those fire companies, to each and every one of the individuals who came to assist us,” Chief Brady said.
Community members have been working to help those firefighters stay fresh and refreshed, dropping off food and drinks for them throughout this long fight.
The Red Cross is also dropping off supplies for the firefighters Friday, reallocating the refreshments they had ready to serve at their shelter at North Park Junior High. That shelter was closed Friday morning, after no one stayed there Thursday night.
The vast majority of those who were displaced because of the evacuation have been staying with friends and family in the area.