NIAGARA FALLS – A man who used a gas furnace to heat a condemned house in which he was living at 1348 Ashland Ave. is believed to have been responsible for a fire there just before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Niagara Falls fire investigators.

The house was condemned Sunday night because it had no electric meter. The lack of a meter was discovered after a fire Sunday next door at 1354 Ashland, according to city Fire Investigator Gerald R. Aderhold.

Aderhold said that there was no electric meter at 1348 Ashland and that residents at 1354 Ashland had been taking advantage of free power by running extension cords from that house to their own.

This led to the fire Sunday night, which caused $20,000 damage and displaced a family of two adults and three children, he said. The building inspector condemned 1348 Ashland on Sunday night once he learned that there was no electric meter there.

Aderhold said, however, that Antwan M. Boykin, 29, continued to live in the house at 1348 Ashland.

After Sunday’s fire at 1354 Ashland, Boykin allegedly ran his own electrical cords to another house – at 1348½ Ashland – and also bypassed the gas furnace in the condemned house at 1348, manually lighting the furnace.

“It ended up heating the interior wall to the point where it caught fire and burned the house,” Aderhold said.

No injuries were reported, and Boykin told investigators he was not home at the time of the fire.

Niagara Falls firefighters confined that fire to a wall cavity in the house’s dining room area and the attic. Damage was estimated at $4,500.

Aderhold said no charges have been filed against Boykin.