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CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS MAN IN HOUSE FIRE

A 44-year-old man died late Friday in a fire at his home.

Luther Palmer, of 537 1/2 Ninth St., was pronounced dead at 11:30 p.m. in Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center by Niagara County Coroner Steven A. Gerhardt.

Palmer was severely burned, but an autopsy conducted Saturday showed he died of carbon monoxide poisoning from smoke inhalation, Gerhardt said.

Fire Chief William Correa said he believes this was the city's first fatal fire in at least 18 months.

The fire broke out in the kitchen of Palmer's first-floor apartment at 9:52 p.m. It spread to the second floor of the 2 1/2 -story frame building, but the second-floor residents were not home, fire officials said.

"Heavy smoke and flames were coming out of the back of the house" when firefighters arrived, Correa said. The extreme heat had blown out some windows. The fire was extinguished in about an hour.

Correa said he believes a cooking accident may have triggered the fire. The investigation is continuing.

Firefighters found Palmer in a bedroom near the kitchen, where he apparently ran from the kitchen.

Fire Capt. Patrick Martin suffered a burn to his lower lip at the scene, but remained on duty.

The house, which had working smoke detectors, is owned by Daniel Jones of 90th Street, fire officials said. Damage is estimated at $30,000, $18,000 to the building and $12,000 to its contents.

The Red Cross was called in to help displaced residents.

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