Owner of auto repair garage killed in blaze

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The owner of Steve’s Auto Services, an auto repair garage on Genesee Street and East End Avenue, was killed in a fire Friday afternoon.

Buffalo firefighters were called to the blaze Friday afternoon, where witnesses described an explosion. Ken Nowatchik lives close to the garage.

“The place was so black you couldn’t even get near it. I walked over there so I backed off. People were throwing buckets of water around,” he said.

Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield says the owner of the garage and another man were working on a car at the time the flames broke out. Neighbors tried desperately to save the owner.

David Saxon of Dave’s Auto Shop said, “We saw the fire and the explosion and we saw Steve laying in the middle of the street face down and he wasn’t moving.”

While some tried to extinguish the flames, others packed snow on the man’s wounds in an attempt to save his life.

When firefighters arrived on scene, heavy smoke was pouring and crews had to fight the blaze from above. The owner of the garage was rushed to the hospital, where he died a short time later.

Cole Jones was a friend of the owner. He said, “He was a good guy. I mean, I’ve known him for 25, 30 years and I always brought my vehicle here for him to fix it. It hurts my heart. I knew him a long time so I just say my prayers and blessing for him.”

The other man had minor injuries and stood helplessly as the business burned. He told police he and the owner were working on a fuel pump when there was an explosion and flames broke out.

Police say the owner of the garage was 56-years-old and lived in Tonawanda. Authorities have not released the owner’s name or the name of the man who was injured in the fire.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which they say caused $325,000 in damage.

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