BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dozens of residents of the burned out apartment building in the 100 block of Lafayette Avenue spent Monday morning salvaging what they could from from the charred remains of Saturday’s fire.
In all, 84 people living in 36 apartment units were forced out because of the fire that gutted the decades-old building that stretches for nearly a block. The building Monday was encased in ice from the hours-long firefight in subzero wind chills. The blaze required more than 100 firefighters and more than two dozen fire apparatuses. No residents were injured, but three firefighters sustained injuries that are not believed to be life threatening.
Through the morning Monday and helped by firefighters, family and friends, residents of the apartment carried piles of clothes, shoes and electronics from the building to overstuffed vehicles.
Julisa Mendez and her mother called the building home for the past eight and a half years.
“I’ve lived here since I was 12,” Mendez said. “Now, friends, family, I’ll go where ever. Just gotta take it one day at a time. God’s got something better in store.”
Her mother quickly grew distraught.
“We just got our main things, like clothes, jewelry, medicines, stuff like that,” she said. “To see all your stuff … I work hard for my things, and for someone to take them away from me … Everything was new in my apartment. It’s hard.”
Fire officials said surveillance video shows Jonathan Jimenez, 29, of Buffalo entering and exiting the building before the fire started. Jimenez was arrested and faces arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and other charges. Sources said Jimenez was not permitted in the building because of an existing order of protection.
“I’m glad,” Mendez said of the arrest. “All my memories got wiped away, and I don’t like seeing my mom suffer. I’m glad.”
The fire caused $2 million in damages to the building and another $500,000 to its contents, according to Deputy Fire Commissioner Vincent Muscarella.