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Man fights for his life after suffering injuries in apartment house fire

An unidentified Lancaster man was fighting for his life late Thursday in Erie County Medical Center after being injured in a fire that broke out in his Sawyer Avenue apartment, village fire officials reported.

The fire, which started shortly before 8:30 a.m. in an apartment building at 94 Sawyer, was believed to have been caused by a cigarette that ignited the clothes of the victim, according to Fire Chief Jim Robinson.

"We believe [the fire] started in the victim's room," Robinson said. "He was semiconscious -- there was some sort of medical condition, and the cigarette started some sort of clothes and debris on fire in his room."

The man, who was said to be in his late 40s or 50s, lived in the apartment house -- which was an old bar converted into apartments -- with four other men. The smoldering fire was confined to the victim's room, officials said.

Scott Kuhmley and John Burke, assistant fire chiefs for the village, found the man unconscious behind his bedroom door in a pile of clothes and other debris, Robinson said.

He suffered severe injuries to his airways from breathing superheated air, fire officials said. Three other men who were home at the time escaped uninjured.

Robinson said that the contents of the victim's room were damaged and that there was smoke damage throughout the house.

The American Red Cross was called to assist the other four occupants.


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