Firefighter Pulled from Three-Alarm Buffalo (NY) Fire; Two Injured

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Maki Becker

The Buffalo News, N.Y.


Mar. 30—A Buffalo firefighter likely suffered a concussion and another suffered minor burns Tuesday while battling a three-alarm blaze at the Bowl-Inn Bowling Center on Bailey Avenue.

A metal grate fell on a firefighter’s head inside the building, knocking him unconscious, Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said. Fellow firefighters pulled him out of the building as the rest of the firefighters who were inside the building were told to get out because of the rapidly deteriorating conditions.

The fire at 727 Bailey, north of Clinton Street, was reported about 10:52 a.m.

A roofing crew was working on the roof earlier Tuesday morning.

“We don’t know if that had anything to do with it,” Renaldo said.

Investigators say the fire began in the rear of the structure, according to information contained in email from a spokesman for the City of Buffalo, Michael J. DeGeorge.

Several 50-pound propane tanks were on the roof when it caught fire, likely fueling the blaze that could be seen from miles around. At least one tank fell through the roof into the structure during the fire, Renaldo said.

The massive fire quickly rose to third-alarm as extra crews were brought to the scene. Four ladder trucks surrounded the one-story bowling alley, pouring water down on the roof as flames leapt up and heavy black smoke poured out of the top of the structure.

A stretch of Bailey was closed to traffic, clogged with fire trucks, fire hoses and police vehicles.

The huge blaze drew onlookers from the surrounding neighborhood.

Brian Snyder, among those who rushed to the scene, said he has worked at the Bowl-Inn on and off for years.

“I got about 20 phone calls,” Snyder said as he stood in front of a parked train car across the street from the still-burning fire.

He said he was in disbelief as he watched firefighters douse the flames.

Like many businesses, the bowling center was shut down for months during the pandemic, but was back open. Most days, there were customers there to bowl, eat and drink, Snyder said.

Karen Fuhrmann and her grandson, Logan, have bowled at the Bowl-Inn many times.

Fuhrmann said she was hanging laundry outside when she noticed the huge blaze.

“I saw a cloud of smoke,” she said. “It was insane.”

The fire caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage. The cause remained under investigation late Tuesday.

Both firefighters were treated and released.


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