BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Arson investigators needed to cut through the charred wood frame of a Fillmore Avenue home to investigate how deadly flames started, Sunday morning.
Chief Michael Tuberdyke joined investigators at the scene, one day after 7-year-old Alexavier Torrez-Santiago died inside.
“Anytime you lose a life, it’s extremely traumatic for everybody. For the families, for us. It’s a very difficult situation,” he said. “They’re looking at everything. Right now they’re working from the back part to the front.”
Neighbor Billy Bridges watched, helplessly, as the house burned.
“I hear kids in the house screaming and hollering and the parents outside trying to direct to what room the kid is in and it just went down from there,” he said.
The roof collapsed, smoke and flames filled the upstairs. Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield says the fire was so intense, crews tried but couldn’t get inside to save the boy.
“The building was already heavily involved. Heavily involved. They went in at great peril to themselves to try and rescue the child,” said Whitfield. “For the safety of our crews they had to pull out and go defensively at that time.”
Ferocious flames weren’t the only problem. There was also a language barrier, because the family only speaks Spanish.
Six family members, including the little boy’s parents, another adults, and his two older sisters and an older brother, did make it out safely before crews arrived. They are now being assisted by the Red Cross.
Alexavier went to School 30. Counselors are on hand for students, parents and staff who need them.