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Fire forces 23 from Delaware Ave. apartments

Twenty-three people were evacuated Friday from a burning Delaware Avenue apartment building that sustained $250,000 in damages.

Three people were taken to Erie County Medical Center, but their injuries did not appear serious, authorities said. One firefighter also suffered a minor injury battling the blaze.

Buffalo firefighters were called just before 8 a.m. to the four-story apartment building at 2118 Delaware, at the corner of Great Arrow Avenue.

The fire started in a first-floor apartment, but as the tenant fled, he left the apartment door open, causing the smoke to spread more quickly throughout the building, said Division Chief Jack Hess.

Most of the tenants walked out of the apartment building with the help of firefighters, but a few were taken down by ladder, Hess said.

Some of the residents resisted evacuating.

"We struggled to get some people out of there," Hess said. "They didn't want to leave."

The apartment building is operated by Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled on Delaware, which provides housing, services and counseling to people with developmental disabilities, said Marsha Fisher, community relations coordinator for the agency.

"Some of the staff felt they may have been frightened, concerned about leaving their belongings behind, or perhaps did not recognize the magnitude of the fire," Fisher said.

The 28-unit apartment building also provides affordable housing for people without disabilities, Fisher said.

Authorities told agency officials the fire was caused by careless smoking in one of the units, rented by a tenant who was not a client of Community Services, Fisher said.

Damage to the building was estimated at $200,000, while damage to its contents was pegged at $50,000.

The residents Friday morning congregated in the plaza across the street at Bagel Jay's, which provided them with refreshments.

It may be weeks before residents can return to their apartments, and perhaps longer for those who lived on the more heavily damaged first floor, Fisher said.

In the meantime, the American Red Cross is providing temporary housing assistance to the displaced tenants, she said.

Fire officials also are investigating another fire, which has been ruled an arson.

Firefighters were called just before 9 p.m. Thursday to a two-story, single-family home at 193 Stevens St., between East Delavan Avenue and East Ferry Street.

Police officials said an unknown person set flammable material on fire in the upstairs, when the residents were not home. The blaze caused $25,000 damage to the building and $5,000 to its contents.


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