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BLAZE RIPS AUTO SHOP; LOSS IS PUT AT $100,000 CAUSE OF FIRE LISTED AS DEFECTIVE CIRCUIT

An electrical malfunction touched off a fire early today in an auto repair shop on Leslie Street, causing damage estimated at $100,000, fire officials said.

The fire began shortly after midnight at Crash Auto Collision at 206 Leslie, where a faulty circuit set off flames in the rear of the building, according to a preliminary fire report.

Heavy doors and bars on windows posed problems for firefighters as they tried to enter the collision shop, which is located off East Ferry Street, fire officials said.

"We had to break in, literally," said a firefighter from Engine 31.

There also were reports the building contained chemicals, propane tanks or other flammable materials, but firefighters said they did not encounter such hazards. The owner of the repair shop, a Cheektowaga resident, could not be reached to comment.

Fire authorities said firefighters faced heavy smoke and extreme heat in the one-story building. Firefighters were further hampered because the one-story building lacked a sprinkler system. The flames were brought under control at 12:47 a.m.

"The actual flames weren't in the (whole) building, but the damage was pretty extensive," the Engine 31 firefighter said.

Firefighters battled two other fires Monday -- on Grant and East Ferry streets -- that started within 20 minutes of each other and caused a total of $34,000 in damages.

In the fire at 77 Grant St., an extension cord that was carelessly extended from one apartment to another in the two-story house caused a blaze at 6:12 p.m. Monday, fire officials said.

The fire was extinguished at 8:29 p.m. after additional equipment was called to the scene. No injuries were reported, and damage was estimated at $26,000.

About 20 minutes earlier, firefighters responded to an alarm in the Donovan Drive Apartments at 961 E. Ferry St. The fire apparently originated on a couch in a first-floor apartment in the two-story building, which is managed by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

Officials were trying to determine what touched off flames.

They said a resident of the apartment suffered minor cuts but declined treatment. One firefighter also was injuried but remained on duty.

Damage was estimated at $8,000.

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