New Buffalo firefighters under investigation after crash, car fire hours after graduation

Buffalo Fire Recruit Fire
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 23:36:37-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Less than 12 hours after 43 Buffalo Fire Department recruits graduated from the academy in Buffalo, a car sources say was driven by one of those recruits was involved in an accident, and found by police abandoned and on fire.

Video surveillance from a local business, obtained by 7 News, shows at 4:00 a.m. on July 1 a Jeep Cherokee SUV crashed into a tow truck at South Buffalo Autoparts in the 600 block of Elk Street.

Video shows the car heading westbound down Elk, driving slowly, speeding up, and then crashing into that parked tow truck. The driver gets out, and the video cuts.

Nearly 30 minutes later, Buffalo Police arrive on the scene. In radio transmission obtained by 7 News on Broadcastify officers say, “Can you put us on an accident on Elk? We’ve got a car on fire over here.”

Buffalo Fire is then called to the scene to put the fire out. The responding officer radios, “Driver bailed out. No direction or anything.”

We’ve learned from a source that three of those fire recruits are currently on administrative leave while the investigation plays out. One of the recruits is believed to be the driver.

The question now — how did the car start on fire?

According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, another grainy 30-second surveillance video from that business captured after the crash shows two people getting out of the vehicle, and as they walk away, the car starts on fire behind them.

Buffalo Police say the investigation has been handed over to Buffalo Fire investigators to determine how the fire started.

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office is also investigating and said in a statement:

"Our office is investigating a motor vehicle crash and the subsequent fire of the vehicle registered to a recent Buffalo Fire Academy graduate that occurred on July 1, 2022, at approximately 4:00 a.m., on Elk Street in the City of Buffalo."
Erie County District Attorney's Office