Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said that a firefighter was killed while putting out a fire in the city’s central business district. The identity of the fireman, who was 37 at the time, was first unknown.
The Buffalo Fire Department reported that the incident, which required the use of four alarms, began in a three-story building on Main Street at around 10:00 a.m.
Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said that there were reports of workers who were renovating the building using torches on the outside the building, which the fire department believes was the cause of the blaze.
The fire may have been smoldering inside the building for some time before a backdraft sent flames shooting out of the building in what at first appeared to be an explosion, Renaldo said.
While the cause of the firefighter’s death was first unknown, Renaldo said that the man had been located close to a collapsed section of the building.
“The situation deteriorated very rapidly,” Renaldo said, adding that the firefighter who was killed was about 30 or 40 feet inside the building on the main floor when the partial collapse happened. “The rest of the firefighters on scene were able to safely evacuate, but unfortunately he was not able to.”
Although Renaldo stated at a press conference at 4 p.m. that it would not be surprising if some sections were still smoking, the big fire was eventually extinguished.
The mayor announced that emergency destruction had been authorized because the building’s remaining structures posed a threat to the public. Renaldo further mentioned that the demolition might be finished by Wednesday night.
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As a mark of respect for the fallen fireman, Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on all city buildings. The mayor said late Wednesday that he and Renaldo had visited the firefighter’s family. Flags on county facilities in Erie County were lowered to half-staff per Executive Mark Poloncarz’s instruction.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of the Buffalo Fire Fighter who perished while in the line of duty today, as well as to the entire Buffalo Fire and City family,” Poloncarz said.
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