North Buffalo Man Charged after House Explosion

A house explosion that leveled one home, and severely damaged two others, led to a 73-year-old man being charged Friday (April 20) morning with three counts of arson, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment.

Neighbors said “it was quite the blast” that rocked Covington Road homes Thursday night.

Members of the Buffalo fire and police departments responded to the North Buffalo neighborhood home around 7:00 p.m. to find the structure at 36 Covington Road fully engulfed.

Covington Road House

Photo: Joe Cascio/The Buffalo News

The lone occupant of the house, Santo Cok, 73, was found unharmed standing on the road across from his now-burning home.

Police later discovered that Cok had attempted suicide by lighting a candle near an opened natural gas line in the house. He was placed under arrest and sent to the Eric County Medical Center for evaluation.

Due to the intense magnitude of the fire, both neighbors and emergency officials were surprised there were no serious injuries.

Neighbor Laurie Brown was first on the scene after she heard the blast.

“There was fire all around [Cok]. The walls had blown apart and this older man is standing there, not a mark on him. He just walked right though the burning debris towards us and then [we] just helped him across the street to a neighbor’s house until the paramedics came.”

James Kraws, another neighbor, also heard the explosion and described the scene as unbelievable. He claimed the flames could be seen on the first and second floors, as well as through the roof of the two-storey home.

The damage from the blast resulted in an emergency demolition of the home, with the houses on either side of it written off as total losses, according to police Captain Jeff Rinaldo. Affected neighbors are receiving help from the American Red Cross.

Long-time residents of the area may remember a similar home explosion in 2012 in the town of Wilson, less than 50 miles away. A 14-year-old girl was killed and her family members suffered serious injuries after a propane tank caused an explosion in the early morning hours.