A vacant building in Lockport which dates back to 1875 caught fire Tuesday afternoon, sending thick, black smoke into the air which could be seen for miles.
The two-alarm fire at 71 Gooding Street was reported around 1:30 p.m. by a city employee. Several fire companies responded and, as of late Tuesday afternoon, the blaze has been extinguished. No one was injured.
The worker who called 911 saw three teenagers fleeing the scene, which leads Mayor Michael Tucker to believe this was an intentional act.
"It isn't formally being called an arson, but it's an old, abandoned, vacant building. There's no power in there. We're thinking it's an arson. The fact that we saw kids running out of there makes us think it's an arson, but until we get in there and make a determination, we won't know for sure," Tucker told WBFO.
The building formerly housed Kohl's Cycle Sales. Tucker says his administration as been trying to demolish the city-owned structure for years, but that effort has been impeded by the State Historic Preservation Office.
It will be subject to an emergency demolition sometime in the coming days.