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Gas explosion on Warring Ave. leaves woman in critical condition

A Buffalo woman was in critical condition, and her three children narrowly escaped injury after their Warring Avenue house exploded early Tuesday morning, knocking three walls off the foundation.

Kimberly D. Briggs, 38, was hospitalized in Erie County Medical Center's burn unit. Fire officials said she was expected to survive.

First-, second- and third-degree burns on her arms, face, back and hands cover about 20 percent of her body, according to Buffalo Senior Fire Investigator Edwin Ortiz.

Her three children suffered no apparent injuries and were released after evaluation in Women and Children's Hospital.

"She was trying to light a pilot to a boiler or a hot water tank," said Ortiz, who was leading the investigation with Investigator Kevin Lozano. "There was a release of gas somewhere, and the house became filled up with gas. The cause of the explosion really won't be determined until we are able to interview her."

Fire officials said Briggs was in the basement and the three children were upstairs at about 12:20 a.m. when the gas exploded at 74 Warring Ave.

The blast rocked the 1 1/2 -story house, sending flames out the back and the family fleeing for safety.

When firefighters arrived, they found the woman and children outside.

The Red Cross was assisting the family, which lost all its belongings in the explosion.

Ortiz listed the children as two girls, 14 and 17 years old, and a 9-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair.

Damage to the house, which was destroyed, was estimated at $60,000.

Fire investigators continued Tuesday afternoon to combing through the charred rubble, seeking clues.

Ortiz said National Fuel Gas workers tested the gas line and found no leaks between the street and the house.

"Everything worked, and there were no cracks in the pipe," he said.


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