BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Investigators are questioning witnesses and trying to find what sparked the flames of a four-alarm fire on Howard Street. The smoke has cleared, but some big questions are still up in the air. Investigators say they are not ruling out arson. The flames destroyed a warehouse.
Buffalo’s Fire Commissioner isn’t saying much about the investigation until they’ve sorted everything out. He said they will come after whoever did this if someone in fact did set the fire. “Persons were detained for questioning, we have not made an arrest at this time,” said Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.
Whitfield is not yet calling the warehouse fire on Howard Street arson. He’s also not saying whether it was connected to two other fires at the same address on the very same day; one involving a barrel and another involving a car. “Everybody connected with that building is a part of the investigation,” said Whitfield.
The largest by far, was the third fire that completely destroyed the warehouse. “At 3:30 all hell broke loose, it went up just like that,” said Daniel Hederick the owner of Twilight Grill.
While the commissioner may not be calling it an arson people in the neighborhood are jumping to their own conclusions.
“My opinion? It’s arson. There’s been too much activity over there since the building changed hands,” said Hederick.
“They burned a car on fire and then they set the building on fire. That couldn’t have been an accident,” said resident Lamar Rucker who lives two doors down from the warehouse.
Before the fire, there was a feud. Lauren Kashino said her family used the warehouse for storing car glass for more than 20 years. Three months ago Robbie Said bought the building and the two sides have been arguing since.
“He told me he was going to burn it down. Who told you that? Robbie, he said if I can’t have it, nobody can have it,” said Kashino. “Never, no threats. These officers came to my building before and asked them to leave my building,” said Said. While Said says it wasn’t him, he also suspects arson. “I think there’s some foul play involved somehow because I just left my building when the fire marshal left earlier when the car was extinguished,” said Said.
Buffalo Firefighters were able to save the house right next door. Two houses on other streets were damaged from embers. Two firefighters were injured fighting the fire. Damage is estimated at $750,000 for the building, a $500,000 for the property inside.