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A faulty furnace ignited Monday night's fire that caused nearly $500,000 in damage to a Chautauqua County fuel-storage facility, fire officials said.

About 150 volunteer firefighters from 14 companies battled the blaze at Pro Oil, a gasoline wholesaler on Route 20 in Sheridan, said Jeff Feinen, chief of the Sheridan Volunteer Fire Company.

The furnace, which runs on used motor oil, malfunctioned and sparked the blaze in the company's garage area, fire investigators said.

"There were several cracks in (the furnace) which caused oil to spray all over," Feinen said.

Two employees were working in the shop when the fire erupted. They called the fire department at 8:10 p.m. after their attempts to extinguish the blaze were unsuccessful, the fire chief said.

It could have been worse, according to Feinen, who credited the two workers with moving parked gasoline tankers away from the burning building.

Route 20, between the Town of Silver Creek and Sheridan Center, was closed for about three hours while firefighters battled the blaze. The fire was kept from spreading beyond the garage, Feinen said, but attached offices sustained heavy water damage.

The fire caused an estimated $250,000 in damage to the building and $200,000 to its contents, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

Besides the Sheridan Volunteer Fire Company, 13 neighboring companies were called to help put out the blaze.

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