Fire destroys two structures, displaces six people

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A powerful overnight fire destroyed two homes on Buffalo’s west side. Residents say they lost everything, but are grateful they have their lives Thursday morning.

PHOTOS | Images capture massive flames, crews battling hot spots and the aftermath

The intense flames started in a vacant home at 3:30 a.m. on DeWitt Street and then spread to a two-family home next door. Both homes were destroyed. The flames were so intense they hit power lines, which started sparking. Firefighters remained on the scene for hours, putting out hot spots.

This Report It photo from Cathie Donahue
This Report It photo is from Cathie Donahue

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield said, “Partial collapse of the exposure building, and a complete collapse of the initial fire building. Also exposures across the street, several houses across the street as you can see are damaged also from the heat of the fire.”

There are six people that are now displaced, including five adults and one child. Some people involved suffered minor injuries. Two cats and two birds died in the blaze.

Whitfield says the fire grew because one of the residents in the home had oxygen tanks.

“Oxygen is very volatile so we had several explosions in those tanks with that structure. It was a defensive fire. Anytime we have oxygen tanks or those kinds of things it makes our job a lot harder.”

Richard Stevenson’s home was destroyed. He said, “I lost everything, I have nothing, I lost everything.”

A neighbor says she saw three men fleeing from the vacant house earlier Thursday morning. Another fire sparked at the vacant house last September. The homeowner says authorities weren’t able to determine a cause back then.

Arlita Mcnamee has been working for weeks to fix up the vacant home, but now she has nowhere to move in to.

Investigators are following every lead to determine the cause of the blaze, which caused $250,000 in damage.

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