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ARSON SUSPECTED IN 4-ALARM FIRE AT OLD WAREHOUSE

A four-alarm fire ravaged a former manufacturing warehouse on Chandler Street in the city's Black Rock neighborhood early this morning, sending flames shooting through the roof and causing two explosions. Fire investigators suspect the blaze was intentionally set.

About 100 Buffalo firefighters battled the fire, which ignited at about 12:54 a.m. at the old Buffalo Weaving & Belting Co. plant at 260 Chandler.

"It was a very intense, heavy fire, with flames coming through the roof and embers flying everywhere," said Lt. Garnell M. Smith, commander of the Fire Investigation Unit.

"We're still in the preliminary stages, but we believe this is an arson fire," he said. "The way the fire spread so rapidly is consistent with a fire that was intentionally set using an accelerant."

Smith said the building was fully engulfed. Firefighters got it under control using about 10 ladder trucks and 15 pumpers.

About two hours after the fire ignited, the rear portion of the building collapsed.

Smith said it was difficult for firefighters to get their equipment close to the blaze because the structure backs onto railroad tracks and is surrounded by gates.

Fire investigators said no injuries were reported and no adjoining properties were damaged.

On April 15, 2003, the building was the site of a three-alarm blaze. Roger D. Scroggins, 19, of Grote Street, and Steven Pollard, 19, of Germaine Street, were charged with setting that fire, which caused $1.5 million damage.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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