(By Janice L. Habuda, Buffalo News, Jun 9, 1998) Heavy smoke and the threat of collapse kept firefighters at a distance Monday afternoon as they battled a two-alarm fire that destroyed a former theater on Broadway.
Fire officials said a short-circuit in a rear vehicle-storage area at 1406 Broadway, site of the former Lincoln Theater, ignited the blaze, which was reported shortly before 3 p.m.
Damage was estimated at $75,000 to the building and $25,000 to contents. The building was scheduled for emergency demolition.
An adjacent building at 1402 Broadway also received heavy damage and was the staging scene for firefighters, who dragged hoses through windows to fight the blaze next door. Damage to the 2 1/2 -story frame structure at 1402 Broadway was estimated at $50,000 to the building and $20,000 to its contents.
Seven adults and one child were referred to the Red Cross; it could not be verified in which building they lived.
The former theater most recently was used for storage, according to Fire Commissioner Cornelius Keane.
The two-story frame building had a brick facade, as was typical of buildings that went up in the early 1900s, and a rubber roof.
“It’s a very difficult fire to fight because it’s difficult to ventilate and it’s difficult to get inside the building,” the fire commissioner said at the scene. “We are limited to fighting the fire on two sides . . . because of the wind.”
Southwest winds gusting at more than 20 mph carried smoke so thick that Titus Avenue disappeared behind a curtain of smoke and police officers wore masks as they directed traffic at intersections to the east.
Fire crews stationed on Broadway worked from behind a line stretched along the westbound traffic lanes.
“The possibility of collapse is imminent,” Keane said. “It would be too dangerous to put firefighters in the building.”
Five firefighters suffered a variety of minor injuries, but were able to remain on duty after receiving treatment.