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MAN KILLED BY GAS FIRE; BOY, 2, DIES SEPARATELY

Two Buffalo residents lost their lives today in separate house fires -- a boy late this morning on the West Side and a man shortly after midnight on the East Side.

The 2-year-old boy died in a fire just after 11 a.m. at 348 14th St., fire officials said. The victim's name was not available early this afternoon.

Police suspect that the victim's 4-year-old brother was playing with matches and caused the fire, which started in a first-floor bedroom. An 18-year-old woman had been caring for the boys.

A neighbor said the children's mother arrived at the scene and attempted to go into the home to save her son. The mother, who was overcome with grief, was taken to Erie County Medical Center.

A man died in a fire in a Lemon Street house early this morning when a woman accidentally ruptured the gas line in the kitchen and flames engulfed the structure, authorities said. That victim's name also was not released.

Fire officials said the blaze erupted at 12:06 a.m. at 251 Lemon St., a 1 1/2 -story, wood-frame house between East North and High streets. Three residents were home at the time -- a woman and two men.

"She was cleaning underneath the stove in the kitchen, moved the stove and accidentally pulled the gas line from the wall and broke it," said a fire official. The stove burners, which were in use, ignited gas from the ruptured line, which triggered the kitchen fire, the official said.

Fire authorities said that the woman called 911 and that about 40 firefighters from eight companies converged on the home to battle the blaze.

The woman was able to escape the home with another man.

Fire officials pulled the body of the victim from a second-floor bedroom. He was pronounced dead.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries but remained on the scene.

Authorities said damage was estimated at $50,000 to the building and $10,000 to its contents.

The home next door at 249 Lemon had $1,000 exposure damage.

The two surviving residents were assisted by the Red Cross.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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