BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Firefighters are breathing a sigh of relief after a family that was unaccounted for after a fire ripped through their East side home was found safe later in the morning.
Fire crews responded to the house on Box Avenue around 3:30 a.m. and found intense flames. They found the family’s shoes near the front door and feared the worst.
A mother and three children lived on the first floor of the two family home; the second floor was vacant. Fire officials and police spent hours trying to reach the woman who lived there to make sure everyone had made it out of the house safely.
“We’ve been trying all morning to reach out to the family. They’re not answering their phones,” Battalion Chief Mark Hillery told News 4.
Around 7 a.m. police finally were able to get in contact with the woman. She and her children were at a friend’s house and were all safe.
Neighbors, who woke up to the smell of smoke and spent the morning worrying about the family, said they were relieved when their wait for news came to an end. “Everybody’s feeling much better,” said Jay Gaines, who lives across the street from the house that burned. “I’m happy they’re all alive.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but fire officials say it looks suspicious.
The flames were so intense at one point, fire crews had to be pulled out of the home for their own safety. “There was quite a bit of fire here. Being at 3:30 in the morning, there was probably a delay in the call so the fire had a lot of headway before we got here,” Battalion Chief Hillery explained, “and it’s such a large structure that there was plenty of wood to burn, plenty of fuel for the fire.”
Once the fire was out and the family was found, demolition crews were able to move in. The damage to the building was so severe after the fire, it took only minutes for the structure to come down.