Apartment house destroyed during string of fires

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – An apartment house fire was the most serious of nine fires intentionally set around the Tonawandas overnight.

UPDATE | Police have released a photo of the suspected arsonist. Click here to see the latest on this story

On Goundry Street, firefighters dealt with stubborn flames and thick smoke for seven hours. It was a scary situation for those who lived inside the eight-unit apartment building. Four apartments were occupied.

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fires
There were nine separate fires overnight in the Tonawandas

PHOTOS | See photos from each fire scene

Neighbors could not believe what they were seeing Tuesday morning.

One of the building’s residents, Emily Young said, “Everything we own is gone. We can’t get anything back.”

Authorities say everyone inside made it out safely after the fire started about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. The house was destroyed. Flames quickly spread, burning through the back and spewing through the roof.

Ashley Young and Alex Moskal also live in one of eight apartments inside the house. “There’s no way they’re going to be able to get up to our floor because we’re at the very top, too,” Moskal told News 4 early Tuesday. Young and Moskal could do nothing but watch as their home burned.

Young said, “The whole floor is just collapsed. It’s just gone.”

Ironically, the fire escape remained intact while crews fought the fire.

Both Moskal and Young found it hard to believe someone would intentionally set their home on fire. “How can it happen? That was the first thing that came to my mind,” Moskel said.

Young continued, “Who would do something? How would it happen? Who would do something like that? I don’t think they realize that everything we own is gone, we can’t get anything back. It’s a good thing nobody was hurt, everybody is safe. We’re all out, everything can be replaced.”

PHOTOS | See photos from each fire scene

Firefighters believe a van was set on fire before flames spread, which is similar to the other fires that started overnight. On Goundry Street, Assistant Fire Chief Joe Sekora says water was a problem because crews were fighting so many other fires at once.

News 4 asked Sekora what goes through a firefigher’s head when they see several fires of the magnitude they experienced early Tuesday. He explained, “Well, you’re just hoping that we can catch the person involved, if there is somebody, and put an end to it before they get any more houses.”

The next step for fire investigators is to sift through the debris to determine who set these fires and why.

News 4’s Ed Drantch asked the assistant fire chief if he thought this was a copycat situation to fires set last month on 5th Sreet, in North Tonawanda. He flat-out said “No.”

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