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Body found in Lockport fire identified as missing teen

Facebook/Joseph Phillips-Morales

Lockport Police are confirming that the body found last week in a massive tire recycling plant fire is that of 14-year-old Joe Phillps.

Lockport Police Detective Lieutenant Todd Chenez made the announcement via an email received shortly before 3 p.m. Friday. According to that message, the Niagara County Coroner advised police of a positive identity about an hour before the email was sent.

Phillips was reported missing shortly after flames broke out at High Tread International on Wednesday evening. The fire continued for several more days, burning a large supply of crumb rubber inside the large facility.

Phillips' body was found in the early evening of Friday, August 12. He reportedly had contacted a friend from inside the burning building to say he was trapped.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Earlier in the week, authorities said they were not yet ready to determine whether the fire was accidentally or deliberately set. 

They also advised reporters that because of the ages of at least one person involved in the investigation, they were legally unable to disclose many details about the case.

Investigators would say that the operators of High Tread International were not at fault. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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