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Remains of Manny's building destroyed

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The familiar sign was the first thing to go Friday afternoon, as City of Utica Public Works crews knocked down the burned remains of the Manny's Cheesecake Bakery building.

A devastating fire tore through the building early Thursday morning. An engineer determined the building was structurally unsafe and needed to be torn down immediately. Owner Richard Alpert gave the city permission to knock the walls into the basement, thereby eliminating the threat of collapse. Several onlookers captured the demolition of the Utica food landmark on video. Owner Richard Alpert and his three children watched as the only livelihood he's ever known, crumbled.

"My boys have been suffering, my daughter's been suffering. They've been crying quite a bit and it really hurts them because they were raised in this place and they wanted to come so we're here," says Alpert.

While the city obtained the legal right to go in and abate the immediate threat of collapse, clearing away the debris is the responsibility of the owner.

"I'm clueless right now the avenues, what to take. I thought the city was going to do the whole job but they're just going to knock it down, make it safe, I can understand that. Then after that I've got to work on finding someone to remove the material, everything that's there," says Alpert, adding that he has no insurance coverage that would reimburse him for that.

Next, the city will issue Alpert a notice and order, compelling him to remove the burned, demolished debris. A timeframe will be attached, but it's not yet known what that will be. The notice and order could be issued as soon as Monday.

Albert says he'll save the iconic sign, and that it might rise again in a familiar spot.

"A lot of people told me I can't leave this corner, so, you might be still looking at the same place it's going to be. Forty three years it's been a great location," says Alpert. "This is the home of Manny's Cheesecake."

Fire investigators are still reviewing evidence and could release a cause of the fire in the next week. They believe it started in the first floor dining area.

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