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FIRE-GUTTED WAREHOUSE TO BE RAZED

An emergency demolition has been ordered for the Black Rock warehouse that was gutted by a suspected arson early Wednesday.

This was welcome news for neighbors of the abandoned building at 260 Chandler St. once Buffalo Weaving & Belting Co. -- who said the site has become a big problem in recent years.

It went through two devastating fires and was the target of vandals and others who stole piping and other scrap materials.

"The kids were getting in there through a garage door. We put in some complaints to the mayor's complaint line, and the city boarded it up. Then the kids came back again," said Caleb Basiliko, president of the Grant and Amherst Block Club.

"Two years ago, I'd like to have seen the building rehabbed and have a business in there," said Tim Lyman, of Bridgeman Street, about three houses away from the old plant.

"Now, after this second fire, I say knock it down," said Lyman, who is vice president of the block club.

The order for demolition came only hours after the four-alarm fire ravaged the old manufacturing warehouse, sending flames shooting through the roof and causing two explosions. About 100 Buffalo firefighters battled the fire, which ignited at about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.

While arson is suspected, the cause has not yet been determined.

The cost of the demolition is estimated at about $750,000, said North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr.

How the city will come up with that money is another matter, said Peter Savage III, assistant corporation counsel for the city. The property is owned by Phargo LLC, which recently filed for bankruptcy.

"We obviously needed to remove the nuisance," Savage said. "That's best for the neighborhood. Our department is reviewing to see what our options may be to recoup some of this money."

An April 2003 fire caused about $1.5 million damage to the plant. Two young men were charged with setting that fire.

e-mail: dswilliams@buffnews.com

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