Fire Devastates N.Y. Family a Second Time

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) -- Nearly eight years after he helped pull his dying father from their burning house, a 45-year-old man died when a blaze tore through the home again.

Firefighters on Sunday found Garry Gardner on the floor a few feet from the front door _ where his father was found Jan. 7, 1996.

Neighbor Mike Secreti said the scene was eerily similar to the first fire when he and Garry Gardner rescued Gardner's father from the smoke-filled house. George Gardner, 72, died a short time later from smoke inhalation.

On Sunday, Secreti was fixing a late night snack when he heard his wife screaming that the Gardner house was on fire again. This time, flames made it impossible to get into the house.

``They opened up the door, and Garry was there, just like his father was,'' Secreti said. ``I just can't believe this is happening again.''

Garry Gardner suffered smoke inhalation and burns over 90 percent of his body. He died at a hospital.

Three other people, including Gardner's 70-year-old mother, escaped the fire in this village just northwest of Syracuse.

Investigators said the 1996 fire was caused when a faulty hot water heater ignited cardboard boxes. The house was destroyed and later rebuilt.

The cause of Sunday's fire was under investigation.

``It's an odd coincidence,'' Fire Chief John Loucks Jr., who also helped fight the 1996 fire.

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