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Lockport teen gets probation for massive fire that killed his friend


A 14-year-old Lockport boy has been sentenced to a year probation and psychiatric care, in response of his guilty plea of arson and burglary in connection to a massive tire recycling plant fire last August.

The unidentified youth, who was 13 at the time of the fire, could have received up to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility. He was originally accused of criminally negligent homicide and nine other charges, which were dismissed in exchange for the burglary and arson charges.

A probation officer's testimony this month revealed the teen has been in and out of the hospital with mental health issues and has tried to harm himself. He did not attend Tuesday's day-long hearing in Niagara County Court.

The fire took the life of his friend, 14-year-old Joe Phillips, who was trapped in the burning 20-acre HTI recycling facility in Lockport.

Some 200 families in the area of Stevens and Ohio Streets had to be evacuated for several days, as firefighters from some 40 area companies and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base doused the flames. Damage was pegged in the millions of dollars.

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