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Two firefighters hurt, five tenants routed by large fire at Military and Grote

Kristen Conrad woke up Monday morning to the sound of glass breaking outside her second-floor apartment on Military Road. At first she thought someone had broken in. In seconds she realized it was a fire.

"I just grabbed my daughter and got out," said Conrad, who stood across the street watching the fire. "We're safe and that's all that matters."

Two Buffalo firefighters were injured fighting the two-alarm fire that broke out around 6 a.m. at Military Road and Grote Street.

The fire broke out in a vacant structure at 12 Grote, said Garnell Whitfield, Buffalo Fire commissioner, who was at the scene. It spread to an adjacent structure at 203 Military where West Side & Black Rock Neighborhood Housing Services is located.  Two apartments occupy the second floor.

A third structure, the Ukrainian-American Civic Center located at 205 Military also was damaged in the blaze.

Whitfield described "extreme fire conditions" at the structure on Grote.

"As you can see, the structure collapsed," he said. "The heavy fire impinged on 203 Military. Our concern was for the residents who lived on the second floor."

By 7 a.m., the fire was believed to be under control as firefighters using an aerial truck doused the smoldering flames. Firefighters remained at the scene for hours, checking for hot spots. Fire marshals also were called to the scene.

One firefighter suffered a shoulder injury, Whitfield said. Another was being treated for a respiratory condition. Neither injury was believed to be life-threatening, he said.

Edwin Jackson is executive director of West Side & Black Rock Neighborhood Housing Services. He said the vacant structure where the fire started was recently purchased as a foreclosure. Jackson also said the new owner had been renovating it.

Jackson's immediate concern was for the displaced tenants, who were receiving emergency shelter from the Red Cross.

"We're looking at longer-term housing that we can get them into," said Jackson.

Steve Ujj and his mother Jolan Ujj, 86, were rescued by firefighters. They sat together in a heated Buffalo Fire Department support van.

"They broke the door down, smashed it to splinters," Steve Ujj. "We don't have anything. No papers, no anything."

"They carried me down," said Mrs. Ujj, 86. "He was sleeping and I was trying to call out to him."

Damages were estimated at $120,000 for a vacant building at 12 Grote; $200,000 for the building at 203 Military; and $25,000 for the building at 205 Military.

Video tweeted by Channel 2's Nate Benson shows the blaze:


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