The following story appeared in the Buffalo News on Dec. 29, 1983.
‘Civilian killed in explosion was trying to warn mother’
Alfred J. Arnold, 34, the civilian killed in the Tuesday night explosion that claimed five Buffalo firemen, was a quiet, well-read man who stayed close to home and helped his parents.
He had sensed danger and gone to his mother’s room to warn her to leave their frame house at 612 North Division St. when the warehouse next door blew apart.
Struck in the chest by a chunk of the building, he died in an ambulance on the way to Sheehan Emergency Hospital after being pulled from the rubble with his mother, Jessie Arnold, 69.
Mrs. Arnold remains hospitalized in fair condition with a broken leg and possible back injury.
“He was a very lovable person,” said Ernest Arnold, 74, who was at his job as a night watch man at the Sample Inc. department store on Hertel Avenue when the blast occurred. “Everyone liked him,” he said of his son.
Alfred, whose initials, A.J., brought him the nickname “Ajax” during childhood, attended School 12, Clinton Junior High School and East High School before going on to Buffalo State College, from which he was graduated in 1971 with a degree in history.
The youngest of five children, he had few close friends, and instead of following his two brothers and a sister into the auto industry, chose to stay home, help out his parents and indulge his love of reading.
“He was a walking encyclopedia,” Ernest Arnold said. “Any time you wanted to know something, you asked him.”
When Alfred left the house it was often to help his father, a retired autoworker, perform maintenance tasks at Mount Ararat Baptist Church, 971 Jefferson Ave., where the Arnolds are members.
The surviving brothers are Ernest Jr. and Hugh, and the sisters are Gloria Redd and Barbara Green.
The funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Thomas T. Edwards Funeral Home, 995 Genesee St. Burial will be in Pine Hill Cemetery, Cheektowaga.
Help for Ernest and Jessie Arnold, who lost not only their youngest son but their home and all of their possessions in the tragic explosion, has been provided by Sample Inc., which has furnished clothing and the use of an apartment.