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ARSON SUSPECTED IN FIRES AT FIVE VACANT BUILDINGS

Fire investigators suspect one or more arsonists are to blame for fires this morning at five vacant buildings in the city -- including one Bailey Avenue house that was set ablaze twice.

Authorities said four firefighters were injured -- three remained on duty, and one suffered a fractured leg.

Fire officials said the fires gutted five buildings in the east and northeast sections of the city -- Swinburne Street, Grider Street, Stanislaus Street and two buildings on Bailey. The houses were set on fire between 1 and 5:51 a.m.

"All the buildings were vacant, and all are suspected arson," said Fire Commissioner Calvin G. Worthy. "It's dangerous because this person could harm themselves or someone else. The houses nearby were occupied, so it could be a threat to them as well."

The first blaze broke out at 1:09 a.m. at 2337 Bailey Ave., officials said. Firefighters extinguished it but suspect an arsonist set it on fire again at 5:51.

An emergency demolition has been requested for the 2 1/2 -story building, and damage was estimated at about $75,000.

At 1:43 a.m., a fire erupted at 26 Swinburne, causing an estimated $20,000 damage. Authorities said the 2 1/2 -story house has been scheduled for an emergency demolition.

Fire investigators said the third fire was at 2:47 a.m. at 47 Grider, starting in the first-floor living room of the 2 1/2 -story building. Damage was estimated at $10,000 to the vacant house.

At 4:26 a.m., a blaze began in the garage of 144 Stanislaus, officials said. The 2 1/2 -story building was gutted, causing about $10,000 damage.

Arson also is being blamed for a fire at 1418 Bailey, which erupted at 5:22 a.m. in the first-floor living room. Damage was estimated at $10,000.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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