Tonawanda News

May 19, 2009

NORTH TONAWANDA: Oliver St. blaze still under review

By Neale Gulley<br><a href="mailto:gulleyn@gnnewspaper.com">E-mail Neale</a>

North Tonawanda fire investigators aren’t yet ready to release their findings on what may have caused the fire early Saturday morning on Oliver Street.

However, Fire Chief Joseph Sikora said both the 290 Oliver St. market and an adjacent building including a local plasterers’ union office and an upstairs apartment have now been turned back over to their respective owners.

He indicated foul play was not an angle in the investigation.

Both structures sustained heavy damage and are unusable after fire broke out just after midnight Saturday.

“Being that there are two different buildings involved there are a lot of additional things we have to look into,” he said. “It’s still under investigation at this time. It’s not out of the ordinary that it takes more than two days for us to determine an origin.”

While it appeared based on statements by a witness who reported the fire that it may have begun at the store called Mark’s Food Market, Sikora said no final determination is ready to be released on that matter, either.

While he said the worst damage out of a total $675,000 was probably to the 286 Oliver St. wood-frame building next door to the more heavily constructed market, Sikora said owners of Mark’s have been working to board up the structure as well recently.

Several apartments behind the fire sustained smoke damage, as well, but Sikora said that didn’t include fire or water damage.

The Red Cross initially helped provide emergency accommodations for eight people, including residents of those three rear apartments and the now “uninhabitable” walk-up residence involved in the blaze.

Damage at 290 Oliver was listed as $100,000 to the building and $400,000 to its contents, including equipment and merchandise. The structure at 286 Oliver sustained $100,000 damage and another $75,000 to its contents.

The owner of Mark’s, Muwasak Rizek, could not be reached Monday by the News. He spoke with TV reporters recently, saying he has insurance and hopes to rebuild the business, which he has owned for four years.

Contact reporter Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 114.