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Lockport teen's call for help in fire ignored, prosecutors say

WBFO's Marian Hetherly

Authorities say the 14-year-old boy accused of setting a massive fire at Lockport's tire recycling plant never told anyone his friend was trapped inside. Prosecutors in Niagara County say the boy - who was 13 at the time of the August 10 blaze - has been charged with arson, criminally negligent homicide and trespass. 

Authorities say he and his friend, 14-year-old Joseph Phillips, used a ladder to scale a fence around High Tread International Recycling and started the fire that quickly spread to recycling material throughout the property. HTI is a more than 20-acre tire recycling plant in the west end of the City of Lockport.

They say the then-13-year-old made it out safely without Phillips, who used his cell phone to leave a voicemail message with his friend saying he was trapped. However, the friend never told authorities that someone was inside the burning facility, according to officials. Phillips, a Lockport High School freshman, died in the fire.

Some 40 companies from Niagara, Erie, Orleans and Genesee counties plus from the Air Reserve Base in Niagara Falls worked for several days to put out the massive blaze. Given the size of the industrial fire, water had to be taken from the Erie Canal to help douse the flames. Some 200 homes neighboring the plant were initially evacuated and three shelters were opened to accommodate evacuees.

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