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Reward increases to $10,000 in blaze that injured firefighter

The hunt to find the city's most-wanted arsonist, or arsonists, got a major boost Monday when the reward fund was increased to $10,000.

The reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever ignited the June 10 fire at a vacant Wende Street house, which left Buffalo Firefighter Mark Reed critically injured.

Meanwhile, Reed's parents and his wife issued a statement thanking the public for their prayers and support.

Reed remained in critical condition Monday in Erie County Medical Center's intensive care unit with no significant change in his condition. He suffered severe injuries to his head and body when the house's chimney collapsed on him.

"He's still in an induced coma, he's still on a respirator, and he's still in critical condition," Buffalo Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo said. "They're trying to get him to be comfortable, rest and heal so they can perform more procedures on him."

Lombardo said Reed, 36, is facing operations to repair his lower right leg and his facial fractures.

The $10,000 reward fund is from a combination of donors: Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282 donated $7,000; Enviro-Care, an emergency cleanup and restoration business, gave $2,000; and an ECMC doctor, who has chosen to remain anonymous, donated another $1,000.

The reward pot was originally $5,000 but has since doubled -- mostly because the fire union increased its contribution from $3,000 to $7,000 last week.

Fire Marshal Lt. Sal Colangelo and his eight fire investigators are trying to track down the arsonist, or arsonists, who ignited that vacant house. They are being assisted by homicide detectives and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"We're hoping this reward will help encourage the public to come forward with information -- even if you think it's trivial," Colangelo said. "We're looking for that piece of the puzzle that will put this case together."

Fire officials said they are also in the process of establishing a public benefit fund to assist Reed and his family.

Reed's wife, Nancy, and his parents, Edward and Barbara, issued a statement in which they expressed their "sincerest gratitude to all those who are helping them through this difficult time."

"A big thanks goes to his brothers and sisters of the Buffalo Fire Department," the statement reads. "They have been nothing but supportive with daily visits, prayers, hugs and handshakes."

"The highly professional medical teams tending to Mark around the clock at ECMC are giving him the best possible care," his family wrote.

The family also thanked members of the public for their "outpouring of genuine concern from friends, family, schoolchildren and strangers."

"Please continue praying," the statement said. "We look forward to the day when Mark walks out the front door of the hospital ready to get on with his life."

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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