BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Federal ATF agents have joined the investigation into the four-alarm fire that fouled a Black Rock neighborhood and left Niagara Lubricant in ruins.
Where it started and how remain unclear, but one thing is certain, that thick, black smoke that filled the sky over Black Rock had something in it. Niagara Lubricant has been manufacturing industrial oils and grease for decades. Some neighbors complained of respiratory problems from the heavy smoke.
Erin Heaney of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY said, "We heard everything from kids going to the emergency room to people feeling sick and having headaches and more acute symptoms."
Heaney's office conducted air quality samples the day of the fire with canisters.
Natasha Soto explained, "You let it run for about 40 seconds, it creates negative pressure in the bucket."
It appears that the coaltion conducted the only air sample of the fire that day. The DEC doesn't typically play a role in air monitoring, but the agency had spill responders at the scene because aside from the air, the water running though the street is another major concern. Absorbent pads picked up oils and greases from the surrounding streets, but the potential damage to the ground water remains unclear right now.
Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said, "So to say there are concerns, yes, there are concerns. DEC has been there throughout, monitoring that the water department is there, all of them are working together to make sure that we minimize the potential damage of this event.
The DEC asked the Environmental Protection Agency to help assess the extent of the contamination. Now the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is on scene to help with the investigation.
As for that investigation into the fire, authorities say the structure is just too dangerous to even go inside. No one has been inside the building since the fire on Wednesday.
The results of those air quality samples should be in on Tuesday, the same day that the Clean Air Coalition is holding a public meeting to hear neighbors concerns at the American Legion Post on Amherst Street at 5:30 p.m. They will review the results and hear residents' concerns about the fire on Chandler Street.
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