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NIAGARA FALLS – City fire crews were called to douse a minor arson at about 8 p.m. Monday at 561 Portage Road, at the old South Junior High School.

Firefighters found an old tire with paper trash that had been set on fire on the loading dock at the old school.

“People across the street heard a loud noise and then saw kids running from the scene and saw the smoke rising,” said Fire Investigations Capt. David Kudela.

He said the fire was minor and quickly put out, but was part of a continuing pattern of arsons over the past year.

“Pretty much all of Niagara Falls has been a problem,” Kudela said. “This is the first time we were called to that building, but there’s stores that have had garbage cans out front set on fire all year long.”

He estimated that there have been between 50 to 100 minor nuisance fires in the city over the past year.

“The damage has always been minimal – so far,” he said. “Nothing major has happened, but there is always the potential to escalate the damage to danger. So far we’ve been lucky.”

He said the fires have been reported at vacant properties and appear to be kids who have a lack of supervision and are looking for something to do.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com