TOWN OF NIAGARA -- A suspicious fire in the former Military Road School has left the two-story brick structure a total loss.
The blaze broke out around 5 a.m. Friday. When police and the first volunteer fire companies arrived on the scene, they said flames could be seen shooting from the roof the school.
The state Department of Transportation closed down Military Road between Route 31 and Lockport Road for close to 12 hours. By early Friday evening, the road remained closed between Lockport Road and Isherwood Drive.
County fire investigators were called to the scene after witnesses reported seeing "what appeared to be four juveniles or young adults running from the building" just before the flames appeared.
Police said the building was boarded up and secured and there were no utilities on in the structure.
Firefighters, concerned about the stability of the structure, attacked the blaze from the outside of the building using aerial ladders to pour water on the roof. Just before 2 p.m., the roof of the school collapsed into the building.
Volunteer firefighters from multiple suburban companies then called for an excavator to be brought in to tear off the rear wall of the school building to allow them to attack the flames directly.