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Arson suspected in Allentown garage blaze and tote fires

A fire that burned down a three-car garage and spread to a house in Allentown early Wednesday morning may have been the work of an arsonist who set a series of garbage tote fires in the area, Buffalo fire officials said.

"Apparently someone's been going around burning garbage totes, so he's obviously a suspect in a three-car garage [fire] behind 18 St. Johns Place," said Battalion Chief Stephen Keohane.

Engine 2 was responding to the garbage tote fires on Orton Place, St. John's Place and Hudson Street. In one case, they arrived at one fire and saw another one happening a short distance away, Keohane said.

The fire marshals then came out and one of them spotted the garage fire.

The garage fire spread to the house at 18 St. Johns, then somehow to 380 Hudson and to a fence next to 18 Hudson, Keohane said.

Keohane noted houses in the neighborhood are close together. "It could have been a lot worse," he said.

The garage fire was reported at about 6:30 a.m. It was brought under control by about 7 a.m. One car was inside the garage that burned down.

Buffalo firefighters battled a garage fire in Allentown Wednesday morning. (David F.Kazmierczak /Special to The News)

Bob Palgutt, who lives on Hudson right behind garage that caught fire on St. John's, said he heard a transformer pop at about 6:30 a.m. Palgutt, his wife and two children evacuated their house, which abuts the garage. He said he wasn't sure if fire spread to his home.

Daniel Culross, who lives across street from the garage fire, said he saw smoke billowing at about 6:30 a.m.

Another neighbor, Taylor Benning, who lives two doors down, noticed the power was out at his home because his neon orange clock was off. Things got bright again, so he thought power came back. But that brightness was from the fire.

"It was as light as day," Benning said.

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