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A couple jumped from a second-story window as fire swept through their apartment at Walden and Bailey avenues Saturday morning, fire officials said.
Though the woman suffered serious injuries, they were not considered life-threatening, authorities said.
"She was laying on the ground. I guess she must have been hurt pretty bad," said Kevin Lett, who lives in the apartment next to the couple.
Unable to escape from his apartment, Lett was rescued by firefighters, who put a ladder up to his window.
The fire in the two-story brick building broke out just before 8 a.m.
Lett said he had just received a phone call from a friend and had just gotten dressed when he smelled smoke.
"[I] looked out in my hall, and it was full of smoke," said Lett. "I wasn't able to get out through the hallway. It was too much smoke in there. I couldn't see."
Though he didn't see flames, "I could hear the fire," he said.
Lett said he shouted to two other second-floor neighbors and heard only one.
A peer counselor with WNY Independent Living, Lett ran back inside his apartment and looked out the window to see the man and the woman on the sidewalk below.
A fire truck then pulled up and firefighters extended a ladder to Lett, who said he struggled a bit getting out of his window but was more than happy to escape the burning building.
"It was good because I was getting out of there," he said with a smile.
In the meantime, another resident of the building, Leroy Pierce, a painter, had just finished breakfast when he heard the smoke alarm.
After he checked the hallway and saw nothing suspicious, he returned to his apartment. Then he heard Lett yelling for him. He returned to the hallway and this time saw it was filled with smoke.
"It was ugly," he said.
Pierce was able to get to a back exit and escape on his own.
Buffalo Fire Division Chief Donald McFeely said the fire quickly escalated to a second alarm because of the size of the building.
"We didn't know how many apartments were occupied," he said.
While there were three apartments on the second floor, the first floor was a vacant store, with bars on the windows, making it difficult for firefighters to access the building.
"It was boarded up and filled with junk," McFeely said.
The woman who jumped to the street below was taken to Erie County Medical Center, McFeely said. The man is believed to have refused aid. No one else was injured.
The Red Cross was helping the victims find shelter.
Damage from the fire was estimated at $100,000. The cause is being investigated.
Pierce said he doesn't believe he'll be able to live in his apartment anymore.
"I hope we can get back in to get some stuff," he said.
Lett was happy to have escaped unhurt.
"It's a blessing," he said. "I made it, and I'm alive."

email: mbecker@buffnews.com