AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) - Shoppers and employees at the Target on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst were evacuated Thursday after a fire broke out in the store.
Amherst Police say an arsonist set the fire around 3 p.m. in the men's department of the store. Flames were contained to that area. The store manager says there are not even any electrical outlets in that area where a pile of pants caught fire.
Terry Brayman was inside shopping with her mother, Kathy.
"An employee came from the back and said this is not a drill, everyone needs to leave now, leave your stuff and get out," Terry said. "When we came around the corner, all we could see was a cloud of smoke coming from the back."
Kathy added, "You couldn't even see; it was scary."
Stephen Gomes says he saw flames and burning clothes in the men's department as he fled the store. One sprinkler head went off, putting out most of the flames.
"I would have expected it to be from the ceiling, but it just took off from the clothes. The clothes caught fire a few sections away in the men's section," he said.
One employee was cared for by fire personnel for an unknown ailment.
The biggest problem Target faces is damage from smoke, which spread quickly throughout the store. The fire was quickly brought under control, but police say the damage tab could be at least one million dollars and could rise to as much as five million dollars pending a full inventory of the building.
North Bailey Fire Chief David Humbert said, "Everything in the store, the building was charged with smoke, so all of that clothing is going to have to be pulled out. Nothing's usable after that."
The store manager tells News 4 the store is expected to open on time on Friday. A dozen employees armed with squeegees and shop vacs are at the store, trying to clean up the water left behind and clear the air of any residual smoke.
Authorities are looking over surveillance tape to try and identify a suspect, but Amherst Police Detective Lt. Rick Walter says there are few actual witnesses.
"Remember: there were over 100 people in the store at that time, so to try and actually look in one area and single one person out of an area of people is going to take some time," he said.
As for motive, Det. Lt. Walter says he has no idea what would spur someone to light clothing on fire. But Target will be working throughout the night to restock its shelves with food and goods that had to be thrown out as a result of the blaze.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call detectives at 689-1364.
The abandoned puppy in the Town of Evans was actually turned in by the dog's owner.
Volunteers at Buffalo’s Salvation Army created holiday cards and gift bags for the seniors at the Golden Age Center.
Buffalo police homicide detectives are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred early Saturday morning.
Buffalo Police have arrested 26-year-old Nicholas Finnegan of South Buffalo and charged him with pushing Russ Ross to his death.
The Niagara County Sheriff's responded to Saunders Settlement Road near Comstock in Cambria Friday night after receiving a tip about a suspected meth lab.
Call 4 Action looked into claims this week that members of BJ's Wholesale Club were paying too much on sales tax on some deeply discounted items.