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July 31, 2013

Kohl Cycle demo job under way

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Emergency demolition of the city-owned Kohl Cycle building got under way Wednesday, less than 24 hours after fire devastated the 140-year-old canal stone structure downtown.

The city hired Mark Cerrone Inc., the Niagara Falls-based construction company, to take down the remnants of Kohl Cycle, 71 Gooding St., and another building behind it, 2 Clinton St., that was heavily damaged by the Tuesday afternoon blaze.

Demolition could cost between $225,000 and $275,000, Mayor Michael Tucker said. The expense apparently is fully on the local tax base, as the city is self-insured and a $200,000 brownfield cleanup grant that it received for the Kohl Cycle building several years ago cannot be applied toward demolition, he said.

Meanwhile, police turned up no good leads Wednesday as to the identity of three youths who were seen running away from the outside of the building just before the fire erupted. Authorities want to talk with the youths about what they might have seen, as it's all but certain the blaze was an act of arson, according to Chief Lawrence Eggert.

"We interviewed four people (who might have been near the building before the fire) and all of them had alibis or were otherwise ruled out as suspects, so we're still in the hunt," he said.

One of the interviewed persons was a young man who'd suggested in a Facebook posting that he might have been involved with the blaze. Police tracked him down and determined "he had an alibi .... he just thought it would be 'cool'" to claim credit for the act, Eggert said.

Police are seeking information from anyone who was in the immediate area before the blaze, which hit around 1 p.m. Tuesday, and might have observed suspicious activity. Anyone who hears another claiming to know what happened or who did it should call the police department too, at 433-7700.

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