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Fire kills occupant of attic apartment

A 33-year-old man died Friday morning in a house fire on the 300 block of 74th Street.

The victim was identified as Thomas M. McGuire, who lived in an attic apartment. The fire caused $35,000 in damage to the two-story home.

The cause had not been determined, but investigators said they were looking at the electrical system or discarded smoking materials as possibilities.

The owner of the home escaped without injury.

Chief William D. MacKay said firefighters were told everyone was out of the house when they arrived at about 9 a.m.

"Then about a half an hour later, [firefighters] discovered a man who had succumbed to the fire," MacKay said.

He said about 15 firefighters went to the scene, and the department spent most of the day investigating.

"There was significant smoke and water damage on the second floor," MacKay said.

Coroner James M. Joyce said McGuire had been living in the attic, which had been converted into an apartment.

"A neighbor said they saw smoke upstairs and then knocked downstairs and the owner exited," Joyce said.

An autopsy and toxicology report were pending, but McGuire suffered third- and fourth-degree burns, Joyce said.

"We are still investigating the manner of death," Joyce said.

The Niagara Falls Fire Department was fighting another fire at the same time, on 12th Street.

MacKay said smoke and water damage to that two-story home was estimated at $40,000. The cause of the fire is believed to an electrical problem, he said.

Eight adults and two children were displaced, and the Red Cross was called in to assist, he added.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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