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Woman in coma, five others remain hospitalized after fire in Lackawanna

A 28-year-old woman – the last person pulled from an apartment house fire in Lackawanna's First Ward early Saturday – remained in critical condition at Erie County Medical Center on Monday night, according to relatives.

Claudia Chamo Soliman, who lived with her husband and three young children, is one of six people who remain hospitalized after the fire, authorities said. She also suffered first-degree burns on her shoulders and back, relatives said.

All escaped the burning four-unit apartment building at 97 Ingham Ave., said Yasir Soliman, a relative. All of them were immigrants, founr families routed by the fire that authorities called suspicious.

The blaze, reported at 3:30 a.m. Saturday, was not the first that occurred at the address, said Lackawanna Fire Chief Ralph Galanti.

On April 7, a telephone book was started on fire on the front porch at 2:34 a.m., Galanti said. Firefighters were called to the scene, and the fire was extinguished, he said. No injuries were reported, Galanti said.

Both fires at the building were described as "suspicious" and are under investigation by the Erie County Sheriff's Office Fire Investigation Unit, said Galanti.

The fire on Saturday was believed to have started in a common hallway near the side entrance of the structure, Galanti said.

Roughly 20 people lived in the apartment building and were displaced by the fire. Seven people were injured and initially were taken to Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo.

One resident heard a loud explosion and recalled seeing flames in the central hallway, said a relative.

Khaled Soliman, 29, the husband of Claudia, then hurried to gather his wife and children, said his brother Yasir Soliman.

"The problem was, they were trapped and their apartment faced a concrete parking lot," said Yasir.

In the front of the house, fleeing families faced a softer landing on the grass below, noted Yasir. But Khaled who lived in the rear jumped two stories to the concrete cradling his oldest daughter Zainab in his arms.

Zainab is hospitalized and recovering from smoke inhalation, facial lacerations and a partially collapsed lung, said a relative. Khaled suffered a broken leg and fractured spine, his brother said.

Also hospitalized were Zaid Soliman, 3, who was treated for second-degree burns on his arm and leg and scratched corneas, and six-month- old Tasneem Soliman, who suffered smoke inhalation. Taha Jobah and his son, Akeel Jobah, who live in the front second-floor apartment suffered burns on their hands and feet and smoke inhalation.

Tasneem was released Sunday night, said Anwar Al-Kalai, president of Lackawanna Islamic Mosque.

All were taken to ECMC, he said.

On Saturday when Lackawanna firefighters arrived at the scene, they saw residents jumping out of the building and others crawling out of second-story windows onto a porch roof, said Galanti.

Jobah, 19, whose family escaped Yemen in a boat, burned both of his feet running from the fire, said Abdul Noman, First Ward councilman.

Two for the four families living in the apartment house came from Yemen. The other two families emigrated from Egypt and Guinea.

The Lackawanna Islamic Mosque owns the apartment building and five more residential structures in Lackawanna that house immigrants, said Noman.

Donations are being collected by: Lackawanna Islamic Mosque, 154 Wilkesbarre St., Lackawanna; Arab Merchant Association, 257 Elmwood Ave., and ACCESS of WNY, 609 Ridge Road, Lackawanna, said Al-Kalai.

A Go-Fund-Me page  https://www.gofundme.com/4-families-lose-everything-in-firehas also been established.

Fire officials estimated damage to the structure at around $50,000.

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