Officials: Wind is a game a changer

Hundreds Evacuated Near The Site Of The Fire

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- Day 2 of Bethlehem Steel's massive fire came with a big complication: wind. That's a big part of why Lackawanna officials made the decision to put safety first and evacuate nearby residents in the path of the smoke.

Around 300 people from Bethlehem Park had to leave. Some chose to stay at the Red Cross shelter, which was set up at Lackawanna Middle and High school.

Many people have voiced concern about the air quality in other areas, and despite the smell, the EPA has insisted other communities are safe.

Residents say they're not convinced, and for that reason, the Red Cross wants you to know the shelter isn't just for evacuees, it's for everyone.

"If people feel like they need to leave their home for any reason, we'll be here to help them out," said Jay Bonafede of the local Red Cross. "Even if they have some place else to stay, have family or friends to stay with, but they want to kind of just come and get away or get a quick bite to eat...if they have been affected they are absolutely welcome here."

Hamburg Emergency Management Services has shared a role in keeping an eye on things, and they've been watching Blasdell, the only other community besides Lackawanna where there were concerns of evacuations.

"It's just on the other side of the railroad tracks, which is on the backside of the industrial complex that this fire is in," said Sean Crotty from the Town of Hamburg EMS.

Hamburg EMS has a working relationship with officials in Blasdell. Crotty said should the wind shift town the village, more evacuations are a possibility.

"As long as that fire is burning, they are the northernmost part of the Town of Hamburg, so we are monitoring the situation there, and if the wind direction changes then they are going to be right back into the mix of consideration," Crotty said Thursday night.

As for schools, many of which closed Thursday due to the smoke, students have off on Friday for Veterans Day.


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