Building partly demolished after “suspicious” overnight fire

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Fire crews responded to a three alarm fire on Elmwood Ave. in north Buffalo early Monday morning.

Firefighters were called just after 3 a.m. to the fire near of Hertel Ave.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but fire officials are calling it “suspicious”.

“Every fire we go to we’re going to investigate all possibilities as far as the cause and origin. So it’s a suspicious fire until we prove it otherwise,” said Commissioner Garnell Whitfield.

“Vacant building. Middle of the night. Of course that will be one of the main things they look at, sure,” agreed Battalion Chief Mike Swanekamp.

The building at 1820 Elmwood Avenue, which has a for lease sign out front, has been vacant for at least a decade, according to fire officials. They say it originally housed a heavy machinery dealer, and most recently it was used as a warehouse.

“A lot of the stock had been removed but there was still quite a bit of material inside, and our big concern was to keep the fire out of the warehouse area,” Swanekamp said, “And we did confine it to the front, what had been offices, part of the building.”

Shortly after firefighters extinguished the flames, a contractor was brought in to demolish the front part of the building, which was left structurally compromised by the fire.

Elmwood Avenue was closed to traffic between Grote and Hertel for several hours while crews fought the fire and then took care of the demolition work.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital with chest pains after fighting the fire. No other injuries were reported.

 

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