A Buffalo firefighter has died battling a blaze in the city’s downtown area, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. The 37-year-old firefighter was not immediately identified.

The four-alarm fire broke out around 10 a.m. Wednesday in a three-story building on Main Street, the Buffalo Fire Department said.

Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said that there were reports of workers who were renovating the building using torches on the outside the building, which the fire department believes was the cause of the blaze. The fire may have been smoldering inside the building for some time before a backdraft sent flames shooting out of the building in what at first appeared to be an explosion, Renaldo said.

It was not immediately clear exactly how the firefighter died, but Renaldo said he had been near a part of the building that collapsed. 

“The situation deteriorated very rapidly,” Renaldo said, adding that the firefighter who was killed was about 30 or 40 feet inside the building on the main floor when the partial collapse happened. “The rest of the firefighters on scene were able to safely evacuate, but unfortunately he was not able to.”

No other injuries were reported, Renaldo said.

The major fire was eventually extinguished, although Renaldo said at a 4 p.m. press conference that it would not be surprising if some areas were still smoldering. The remains of the building were deemed unsafe and an emergency demolition was ordered, the mayor said. The demolition could be completed as soon as Wednesday night, Renaldo added.

Buffalo firefighters battling a massive, 4-alarm blaze at 745 Main Street line up and salute their fallen colleague as his body is recovered, Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in Buffalo, N.Y.

Derek Gee / AP

Brown ordered flags on city buildings to be flown at half-staff in honor of the firefighter who was killed. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also ordered flags on county buildings to be flown at half-staff.

“I offer my deepest condolences to the family of the Buffalo Fire Fighter who perished while in the line of duty today, as well as to the entire Buffalo Fire and City family,” Poloncarz said.