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Evans Bank considers trailer to serve Lancaster site

Evans Bank is considering using a trailer as a temporary location to serve customers at the Lancaster site where its branch was knocked out of service by a Sunday fire.

Longer term, the Hamburg-based bank is evaluating whether its building at 4979 Transit Road can be repaired, or needs to be torn down and replaced, said Kevin Brady, vice president of marketing and public relations. Decisions about the future of the Lancaster branch could come by the end of the week.

“It’s important part of our franchise,” Brady said of the Lancaster location, which opened in 2004.

The fire is no longer considered suspicious, as was initially speculated, he said. The fire was traced to copier/fax machine, based on fire officials’ investigation and images from the security system. What caused the machine to catch fire is not yet known; the blaze began near 6 p.m. on Sunday, when the branch was closed and no employees were inside.

Brady said the property had an alarm system that worked properly and alerted first responders, contrary to some early reports. And while the building did not have a sprinkler system, Brady said that is not uncommon for single-story commercial buildings below a certain size in suburban communities in the region.

The branch’s six employees were reassigned to Evans Bank’s Williamsville branch for now. Two other Evans employees who worked from the site, in consumer lending and wealth management, are working from other locations, as well.

The fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage. The branch’s vault was not affected, Brady said. “The vault is built to withstand a whole lot more.” The branch’s cash and customers’ safe deposit boxes were moved to another location via armored car.

Evans Bank’s Lancaster branch has about $50 million in deposits, which places it about the middle of the bank’s locations as ranked by deposits, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.

If Evans Bank goes with a trailer as a temporary solution, it’s an idea that a bank has used locally before. In 2007, Waterford Village Bank opened to the public in a trailer in Clarence before its permanent building was completed. Coincidentally, that permanent building is now an Evans Bank branch, after state regulators closed Waterford Village Bank in 2009.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com

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