A fast-thinking City of Tonawanda man out for a walk reported smoke coming out of the three-story brick St. Clare Center at 144 Broad St. about 12:15 a.m. Friday, according to the City of Tonawanda Fire Department.
The unidentified man got fire crews to the former St. Francis of Assisi School to quickly deal with a fire in a second-floor room that housed a church deacon’s office. Though fire crews managed to contain the fire to that room smoke damage was observed in other rooms of the building, which currently houses church offices and a food pantry. Damage was listed at $20,000.
“Had that resident not been there to notice the fire when he did, this surely could have been a much worse situation,” said Charles Stuart, the city’s fire chief.
Fire investigators are still investigating but suspect the fire may have been caused by a malfunctioning appliance that had been mistakenly left running. Stuart said no one was injured in fighting the fire.
City police, the city’s emergency management crew and North Tonawanda Fire Department and Sheridan Park Fire Department crews assisted at the scene.
The school was among several schools closed by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in 2014.