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Monday, March 21, 2016
A "NO SMOKING" sign is visible on a wall inside an Exhange Street building where LFD officials say an ashtray may have been the culprit for a Saturday afternoon fire that caused $100,000 in damage. (HEATHER GRIMMER / ENP PHOTOGRAPHER) 

By +Scott Leffler 
scott.leffler@eastniagarapost.com


The damage inside 7 Exchange St. was extensive. 
A press release from the Lockport Fire Department says a Saturday fire at 7 Exchange Street appears to have been started by "the improper disposal of the contents of an ashtray may have contributed to starting this fire."

The fire, which caused as much as $100,000 damage, started shortly before 4 p.m. and was marked as "complete" at 8:12 p.m., according to the LFD release.

The release notes that 22 fire department personnel reported to the scene including six who were on duty at the time, 14 who were called in to fight the blaze, MTO/Safety Officer Luca Quagliano and Chief Pat Brady. Engines 7 and 8 originally responded with Truck 9 being called to the scene by responding crews. Of the $431,183 in assessed property value, the release says LFD saved $331,183 in value.

The narrative of the LFD release follows in its entirety:
Lockport Fire Dept. equipment and personnel were dispatched for a fire in a large commercial (91,000 sq ft.) structure located at the corner of Market St. and Exchange St. This building houses several different business including the 247 Art Center and is owned by Heather Grimmer. The Fourth Platoon under the direction of Assistant Chief Joseph Morello went to the scene with Engine -8 responding from Fire Headquarters while Engine -7,  returning back to Fire Headquarters after just completing another call, responded immediately to the scene.

The  Engine -7 crew noted a large volume of smoke emanating from this very large commercial structure as they proceeded down Market St and determined that the smoke was issuing from the part of the building that houses World Automotive, an auto parts distribution store.  A second alarm was requested to supplement man power at the scene and to provide the needed staffing at Fire Headquarters to answer any other requests for service during this incident. South Lockport and Wrights Corners Volunteer Fire Companies were also requested to stand by in their respective fire halls in case additional manpower or equipment was needed from these agencies.

The Engine-7 crew led by Captain Joseph Prica made immediate entry through the locked door at that business and extinguished the bulk of the fire that was consuming the area immediately adjacent to the large overhead garage door that is used for deliveries. The fire that had been burning behind this garage door had also communicated to the exterior of the building. Crews had to expend considerable time and effort in checking to make sure that no fire had travelled into the exterior or into the roof of the building. Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool was also called to scene to the scene to assist in checking the buildings structural integrity.

This fire was extinguished with 3400 gallons of water and 7.2 gallons of Class A foam. Damage to the structure itself is estimated at $50,000.00 with the contents of the structure also estimated to be $50,000.00. A rapid response and extremely quick knockdown of the fire kept this incident from escalating into a large multi agency event.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation by LFD fire investigators, but it appears that the improper disposal of the contents of an ashtray may have contributed to starting this fire. 
DISCLAIMER: Heather Grimmer is owner of East Niagara Post as well as ART247. 

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