Local father killed after rescuing child from Buffalo fire; 1 other dead, 3 children injured

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) _ A father of three was killed after saving his eight-year-old daughter from a burning building Friday morning.

The two-alarm house fire happened at Litchfield and Humber Avenues in Buffalo.

The father was identified by family as 24 year-old Demetrius Johnson. His three children were all injured during the fire.

Treasure Brighon, the 8-year-old, was taken to Women and Children’s Hospital after suffering severe burns to 90 percent of her body. She was flown to Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, Ohio– a facility that the American Burn Association says meets the “highest standards of burn care.” Shriner’s sent a transport team to take Treasure to the hospital in Cincinnati via jet.

Treasure is in critical but stable condition.

MORE | Learn more about the family of the victims of the fire here. 

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The mother, Tempest Thomas, was not able to fly on the jet to Shriner’s. Wings Flights of Hope flew Tempest and Treasure’s grandmother to Cincinnati Friday night.

Demetrius Johnson Jr., 3, and 15-month-old Demaris Johnson were also taken to Women and Children’s Hospital. The three-year-old is being treated for smoke inhalation and is in stable condition. He was moved out of ICU Sunday. The one-year-old is said to be in good shape.

Two firefighters suffered minor burns and were taken to ECMC.

Witnesses say the family of five had just moved into the downstairs portion of the building one week prior to the fire.

Another man and a person whom witnesses say was his uncle lived upstairs in the 2.5 story building. The uncle was killed in the fire.

Numerous fire trucks were on the scene trying to put out the flames after the 4 a.m. blaze began, reportedly in the first floor’s kitchen area. The house is located near ECMC.

Firefighters continue to investigate what may have sparked the blaze, but severe damage is hampering the investigation. In all the damage added up to $150,000.

Later in the morning, an excavator arrived to investigate the scene. The house was too unstable for officials to go in before that. A partial demolition began Friday afternoon. During the demolition, however, neighbors say a dog which must have survived the fire ran out of the basement.


The American Red Cross is helping the families affected with donations, clothing, food and more.

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield spoke shortly after extinguishing the blaze about the tragedy.

APP USERS | To see video of Garnell’s conversation with News 4, tap here.

A witness at the scene appeared angry as a result of the fire, saying, “People lost their lives because of these slum landlords out here.”

The owner of the Humber Avenue home, Sayara Uddin, lives in New York City. News 4 spoke with a resident of Bailey Avenue who said conditions in the home were terrible.

The resident claims there were problems with hot water and basement flooding. In addition, the Bailey Ave. resident also said the front door did not close properly.

Despite this, the Buffalo Housing Court says there was no record of housing violations at the address.

Masten District Councilman Ulysses Wingo, Sr. says the he’s worked throughout the day to establish a network of people willing to donate and lead the charge to help the families get back on their feet.

Hours into his quest, Wingo said he’s been inundated with those willing to help the family through the tragedy, along with other fire victims in the home. Mt. Hope Community Church is accepting donations to help the family — including funds to help the mother of the 8-year-old girl get to Cincinnati to be with her as she is treated for severe burns.

Donations of food, clothing, and money are being accepted at Mt. Hope Community church at 1326 Broadway. The church will open at noon on Saturday to accept donations for the victims of the fire, and then hold a service to pray for the family at noon on Sunday.

To call Wingo’s office, dial  851-5145 and to reach Mt. Hope Community Church, dial 602-6676.

The family also has a Go Fund Me page setup and you can find that by clicking here. 

Prince of Peace Christian Church at 190 Albany St. is accepting donations for Juan Alberto Montanez Navarro — the other man who died during the fire.

Stay with News 4 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on this story.

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