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VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER PRAISED FOR AVERTING SERIOUS BLAZE

A volunteer firefighter was commended Friday for using his personal vehicle to pull a burning pickup truck out of a garage, preventing a more serious fire.

Sheriff's Deputy James Haight said he and South Lockport Fire Company Chief Robert Conn gave kudos to First Assistant Chief James Clewell, who was the first person to respond to a fire alarm from a garage behind Video Pix, 6715 South Transit Road, at about 2:45 p.m.

Haight said the owner of the property, Jack Gian, 56, of 4934 Meyer Road, Pendleton, was working under a 1986 Ford pickup he had purchased recently. Haight said Gian was using a torch to try to loosen seized-up linkage. He accidentally ignited some grease, and the fire quickly spread to the fuel line and then engulfed the whole truck.

Clewell, arriving on the scene, quickly hooked a chain to the burning truck and pulled it out of the garage behind the video store. "Clewell saved the building from major destruction," Haight said.

The fire was extinguished by South Lockport and Rapids volunteers. Damage to the truck was estimated at $3,500, while Haight said about $10,000 in smoke, heat and water damage was done to the 20-by-50-foot garage. Haight said firemen had to spray the inside of the building with water to make sure the walls would not ignite.

There was also about $1,000 worth of damage to the rudder of a small plane inside the building, Haight said. He added that Gian declined treatment for a minor case of smoke inhalation.

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