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Rescue of three averts loss of life in North Buffalo fire

Fire marshals Sunday were searching for the cause of a Saturday night blaze that left a North Buffalo family of seven homeless.

City firefighters saved the mother and two of her five children when they pulled them to safety from their second-floor apartment in the 2½-story house at 433 Military Road.

“They were afraid and they didn’t want to leave,” Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. said. “Our guys literally ended up grabbing them and carrying them out of the building.”

No injuries were reported in the fire, which started in a vacant building and spread to the house next door. The vacant building, a former bar, was destroyed, and the roof caved in at the house.

Kevin Lin, owner of the house, said he had tried but was not able to get insurance on the house.

Loss at the two structures was estimated at more than $150,000, fire marshals said.

“It was a double unit. One apartment had tenants,” Lin said, adding that the first floor at 433 Military was used for storage.

The parents and their five children, who are Burmese refugees, have lived in the second-floor apartment for three to four years, he said.

They were staying with family members after the fire, said property manager Law Say.

Investigators were at the scene, which is on the east side of Military across the street from the copper and brass plate manufacturing plant Aurubis Buffalo and backs up to Jasper Parrish Drive. They were looking for any security cameras in the area that might be helpful.

The fire commissioner said that the rescue was complicated by a language barrier and that family members initially did not want to leave the house.

Lin, who also operates the Sun Restaurant, reflected on the loss of the building by saying, “No one lost their life. What are you going to do?”

The fire was reported shortly before 8 p.m. Neighbors said the former Dance Party Bar at 435 Military had not been in operation for many years.

News Staff Reporter Jay Tokasz contributed to this report. email: bobrien@buffnews.com