The mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown, has confirmed that a firefighter has been killed while attempting to put out a fire in the city’s central business district. The identity of the firefighter, who was 37, remained unknown at press time.
At about 10 a.m. on Wednesday, a four-alarm fire broke out in a three-story building on Main Street, according to the Buffalo Fire Department.
According to Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo, the fire was likely started by renovation workers who were using torches on the exterior of the structure.
Renaldo speculated that the fire had been burning within the building for some time before a backdraft caused flames to fly out of the building, creating the impression of an explosion.
Renaldo stated that the firefighter was located near a collapsed portion of the building, though it was not immediately clear how the firefighter perished.
“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.”
Renaldo stated nobody else was hurt in the incident. Even though Renaldo remarked at a press conference at 4 p.m. that it was not surprising that certain places were still smoking, the big fire was put out shortly after.
The mayor said that the building’s remains were unsafe, so an emergency demolition was ordered. Renaldo further mentioned that the demolition might be finished by Wednesday night.
Brown ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on all city buildings in memory of the fallen fireman. Flags at county facilities in Erie County were lowered to half-staff per Executive Mark Poloncarz’s directive.
Poloncarz expressed his condolences to the Buffalo Fire and City family as a whole for the loss of a firefighter today.