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WHEATFIELD -- Two people suffered smoke inhalation Wednesday while saving their pets and belongings from a fire that did extensive damage to their Pendleton-Wheatfield Town Line Road home, Shawnee Fire Chief Fred Lawrence said.

Joseph Richel, 49, and his wife, Joanne, 51, of 6712 Town Line Road, were released after treatment in DeGraff Memorial Hospital, North Tonawanda, Lawrence said.

A pet cat died in the fire, he said.

The fire broke out at about 7:45 a.m. in the living room of the large, one-story house, Lawrence said.

Joanne Richel discovered the fire after she and her 3-year-old grandson, Michael Taber, smelled smoke. She said she went to the living room to investigate and found the corner of her couch engulfed in flames next to a computer, sheriff's Deputy Scott D. Milleville said.

Richel got her grandson out of the house, called for help and called her husband at work.

When he returned home, he and his wife rescued their two dogs and a cat from the fire and started removing some valuables from the house, which is when they were exposed to the smoke, Lawrence said.

The fire destroyed the living room, dining room and kitchen, Lawrence said, and smoke damage was heavy throughout the rest of the house.

The Red Cross was called in to provide the Richels with temporary housing and other assistance, Milleville said.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation. No dollar estimate was available on the amount of damage. No other injuries were reported, Lawrence said.

Mechanical failure blamed
in Goodyear Tire blaze

NIAGARA FALLS -- A part failure was listed as the possible cause of a fire Wednesday that did extensive damage to a chemical reactor at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 5408 Baker Ave., fire officials said.

Fire Chief William Correa said firefighters were called to the scene at about 6 a.m. He said a preliminary investigation indicated the fire started after material leaked out of the reactor, possibly through a bad seal or gasket.

The fire was quickly brought under control and firefighters remained until the reactor cooled down, Correa said.

No injuries were reported. Correa said the materials in the reactor were of "the lowest level of toxicity" and posed no health threat to people in the building.

Brooklyn man given prison
in forgery of travel checks

LOCKPORT -- County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on Wednesday imposed a prison term of one to three years on Christopher Bell of Brooklyn, who had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Bell, 41, was one of four suspects arrested at Prime Outlets Mall in the Town of Niagara on July 26, when police seized 301 bogus $100 traveler's checks from a van.

Some of the checks had been spent July 25 and 26 at stores in Niagara Falls, Wheatfield and the Town of Niagara.

Two Brooklyn women were sentenced to nine months in jail. The alleged mastermind of the scheme, Samuel B. Person, 35, of Brooklyn, is due for sentencing March 8 after being convicted last week on 13 counts.

$3,500 Kawasaki dirt bike
stolen from family garage

WILSON -- A $3,500 dirt bike was stolen from a Wilcox Street residence sometime between 6 p.m. Sunday and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, sheriff's Deputy Matthew J. Cipollitti said.

Michael J. Cornell, 16, told Cipollitti on Wednesday he discovered his green Kawasaki had been removed from the family garage.

Woman charged with assault
in daughter's head injury

NIAGARA FALLS -- A woman accused of banging her 3-year-old daughter's head on the floor of their apartment several times has been charged with felony assault, police said.

Beverly Davis, 37, of Hyde Park Boulevard, also was charged with endangering the welfare of a child Tuesday in her home, Officer Kelly Rizzo said.

The child was released after treatment Tuesday in Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center's emergency room, a hospital official said. The girl was turned over to Niagara County Child Protective Services.

Man accused of using
ax to damage car

TOWN OF LOCKPORT -- A Raymond Road man has been charged with felony criminal mischief for allegedly using an ax to do more than $2,000 damage to the car of a Cheektowaga man, Deputy Leonard Guagliano said Wednesday.

Christopher M. Rowell, 49, is accused breaking all the windows and damaging the front grille and other parts of the 1986 vehicle belonging to Erik G. Jones, of Woodel Avenue, Cheektowaga, on Sunday, Guagliano said.

Woman given probation
in prostitution case

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls woman regarded as developmentally disabled was placed on probation in a prostitution case Wednesday by County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.

The case of Tynetta Humber, 35, drew the attention of county legislators when the county was hit with the cost of keeping her in a state-run institution as she awaited trial. It was presumed she would not be competent to stand trial, but last fall doctors surprised the lawyers in the case by finding her competent.

Humber pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree sodomy. She was accused of having sex with two boys between ages 11 and 14 in a Niagara Falls alley on Aug. 9, 1999.

Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco said Broderick ordered five years' probation for Humber. He said she would likely be placed in a state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities facility in the Adirondacks.

Man gets one year in jail
for marijuana possession

LOCKPORT -- A one-year jail term was ordered Wednesday for Antwain M. Palmer, one of four men arrested in a Niagara Falls drug raid.

Palmer, 24, of 21st Street, Niagara Falls, was convicted of second-degree criminal possession of marijuana by County Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. in a nonjury trial that ended Sept. 1.

Palmer was arrested Aug. 10, 1999, in an apartment on Cedar Avenue in Niagara Falls, in a raid in which police seized about 2 pounds of marijuana.

In other court action Wednesday, Jason F. Waters, 16, of LaGrange Street, Lockport, pleaded guilty in two Lockport burglaries. Waters is to be sentenced March 21 for attempted third-degree burglary and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. He was accused of entering a South Street home Sept. 14 and a Wilson Parkway house Oct. 31, and stealing $2,725 worth of property.

Matthew Kreps, 31, of Sixth Street, Niagara Falls, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on charges of third-degree robbery and resisting arrest. He is accused of robbing the USA Mini Mart, 502 Main St., on July 21.

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