LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of crews continue to respond to the scene of Wednesday’s massive fire at the old Bethlehem Steel site.
As that battle drags on, Route 5 remains closed in both directions near the fire scene. Residents in the neighborhood next to the fire site were being evacuated in the afternoon.
Firefighters were going door-to-door evacuating at least 300 homes in the afternoon. NFTA buses and vans began transporting residents without cars to warm shelter. No pets are allowed in the vehicles.
As evacuations take place, officials are asking people to turn their home thermostats down to avoid bringing air into their homes.
The fire prompted several businesses in the area to close for the day, and has created headaches for morning commuters who have found congested traffic on alternate routes.
Several school districts have made the call to cancel classes Thursday. Lackawanna City Schools are closed, as are Frontier Central Schools, and a handful of others. The list of closures has grown throughout the morning as concerns about the smoke from the fire continued.
Gov. Cuomo visited Lackawanna Thursday morning. He was joined by a number of officials, including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
“This is a terrible tragedy, Cuomo said. “As terrible as it is, it could’ve been worse if the first responders weren’t as good as they are.”
Cuomo said officials are monitoring smoke and making sure it does not impact people in their homes.
“We’ve been through a lot of tough times,” Cuomo said. “When things are at their worst, New Yorkers are at their best…First order is health and safety.”