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Questions arise about cause, victim's father in deadly Buffalo fire

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

City officials continued to say only that the investigation was ongoing Tuesday into a deadly house fire in Buffalo's Lovejoy neighborhood. But new information surfaced Tuesday about the father of the victim, while news reports suggested he may have caused the fire after lighting a cigarette with a blowtorch.

Joseph Conti, the father of 7-year-old Anthony Conti, had a six-month order of protection filed against him earlier this month. WBFO independently confirmed that information, which was first reported early Tuesday afternoon by WIVB-TV.

Conti was also scheduled to appear in Buffalo City Court in relation that order, though the source which confirmed the order was unsure if the appearance had taken place.

Meanwile, television and print reports suggested the father may have accidentally set the early Monday morning fire which resulted in Anthony Conti's death. The Buffalo News reports a neighbor, speaking to them on condition of anonymity, claimed Joseph Conti admitted accidentally starting the flames after lighting a cigarette with a blowtorch.

All family members except Anthony were able to escape the fire. The boy was found unresponsive inside the house by Buffalo firefighters who administered CPR but were unable to revive him. Investigators on Monday believed Anthony Conti died as the result of smoke inhalation.

A spokesman in City Hall told WBFO Tuesday only that the fire remains "under investigation" by Buffalo Fire officials.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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