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LEWISTON – Damages are estimated at $2 million or more in a fire which destroyed a paper recycling facility at Modern Landfill Corp. on Pletcher Road Wednesday evening.

“The recycling building appears to be a total loss. The structure is gone,” said Gary Smith, Modern’s chief operating officer. Operations will be moved to Lockport facility.

He said the 80- by 120-foot building located just inside the property on Pletcher Road was used mostly for paper and cardboard recycling and as a transfer station to move other local curbside recycling materials to the company’s facility in Buffalo.

According to police, an employee noticed smoke around 6 p.m..

More than half a dozen fire companies responded to the rapidly spreading fire. However, firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the single building.

“It really took off,” Smith said of the fire. “The nature of the product in there, with the dust from the fine paper and such, was quite an accelerant.

“The fire companies did a terrific job. I couldn’t speak more highly of their actions.”

“The first fire agency that got there reported heavy smoke,” said Lewiston Police Chief Christopher Salada. “They fought it for a while.”

Salada said crews were on the scene for several hours.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Smith said they believe something hot came in from their curb side recycling and was smoldering.

“We know about where it started, but I don’t know if we will ever know the real cause. We think something was hot in that load and it smoldered and caught on fire. That’s what we are envisioning,” he said.

One employee was treated and released for smoke inhalation, according to Smith.

Smith said everything in Lewiston and west of Lewiston went though the site and beginning Friday morning all the trucks, about ten trucks a day, will be transferred to the company’s facility on Junction Road in Lockport, where some recycling is already being done.

“This is for the short term and then we are going to reevaluate what our needs are. We will be rebuilding, but we just need some time to determine what we need the most out of that facility,” Smith said.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com