Building that was part of Underground Railroad collapses during morning fire

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A two-alarm fire at one of the oldest buildings in Buffalo kept firefighters busy for hours on Wednesday morning.

Part of a vacant building collapsed, forcing firefighters to back off.

Crews rushed to Sycamore St. in Buffalo around 3 a.m.

There were other buildings within a few feet on either side, but firefighters managed to keep them from catching fire.

The division chief at the scene told News 4 there was another fire at the same address a few years ago, and it’s certainly not the first fire in recent weeks.

“I don’t want to speculate but it wasn’t cooking, it wasn’t defective wiring, it wasn’t the stove left on it wasn’t pipes. So it comes down to maybe a human touch, but our investigators are here and they’ll figure it out. Do the math — it wasn’t any of the other hazards,” Buffalo Fire Division Chief Peter Kertzie said.

The building, which was built in 1850, is considered a total loss.

The building’s owner says it was part of the Underground Railroad — a series of safe buildings and paths used by African-Americans to escape slavery in the Civil War-era United States.

He had plans to turn the structure into a commercial space.

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