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Firefighters wrap up at scene of Premium PPE fire, investigators set to work to find a cause

Fire officials say the public is in no immediate danger from any of the industrial chemicals inside the building.

AMHERST, N.Y. — Firefighters wrapped up at the scene late Wednesday afternoon of a major structure fire that broke out Tuesday evening at an industrial and office park in Amherst.

The fire broke out just before 4:30 p.m. at 120 Earhart Drive at Premium PPE, a mask and personal protection manufacturing facility.

The warehouse section of the complex, which was a total loss, was utilized by several businesses including one which stored chemicals there, used in the manufacture of spray foam.

The fire was brought under control overnight and there were no injuries reported.

On Wednesday morning fire crews were still on the scene to check for hot spots and any hidden fires they had missed. 

It is currently unknown how the fire started.

"There were some individuals within the building when the fire started and we are in the process of interviewing some of them," said Amherst Town Fire Inspector John Pidgeon. "The interview process through an investigation is very crucial to helping us determine where to look and what to look for.".  

Wednesday morning, Brad Sprague, chief of the Main-Transit Fire Department, provided an update from the scene. He estimated approximately 50 departments and agencies assisted from around Erie County and from as far away as Genesee County and the Southern Tier responded. That estimate included departments called in to cover for areas crews that were fighting the fire. 

The general public is in no immediate danger from any industrial chemicals within the building. 

However, Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa noted that a youth baseball league will postpone practices at their field about a quarter mile from the fire scene for at least few days, while soil samples can be analyzed to see if any dangerous particles remain on the grass.

Concern over hazards presented by chemicals inside the burning building had prompted officials to recommended individuals in the area shelter inside while the fire raged.

"The industrial hazards we were concerned about have been mitigated, we are doing monitoring with the DEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) and state agencies to make sure there are no hazards that come up," Sprague said.

Part of the New York State Thruway (I-90) was closed in both directions for several hours until the roadway reopened just after 9 p.m. Tuesday

The fire was directly across the Thruway from the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and was causing traffic issues during Tuesday's rush hour. A viewer shared a picture of a plane landing near the massive cloud of smoke coming from the fire.

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