LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- Surrounding neighborhoods for miles felt the effects of a massive structure fire at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna Wednesday.
Schools were sheltering in place and homes from Lackawana to Athol Springs were told to do the same.
2 On Your Side spoke with people in Woodlawn, Blasdel and Hamburg about what they were seeing and hearing throughout the day.
Photos: Fire Bethlehem Steel site
Some close enough to the site said they heard loud popping noises around 7:30 Wednesday morning.
Shortly after the sounds, came the sights: multiple people described the huge clouds of black smoke initially looking like a storm moving in.
If people did venture outside their homes, they also found debris falling from the sky.
Malcom Schroen, who lives in Hamburg, said some debris is about half the size of footballs.
"It was unusual because they stuck together. Usually if an ash is paper or cardboard, it breaks up and become brittle. These came out as solid pieces and you notice...I don't want to touch with a bare finger but its solid like some kind of material plastic...synthetic. It didn't break up like paper would. Or cardboard," said Malcolm Schroen, a nearby neighbor. l
Some people also complained about the smell. Schroen described it as "pungent air." "Putrid" was also used by one person, comparing it to burning plastic and rubber.