15 homeless after $300K West Side fire

Jan 9, 2017

A house fire lit up the West Side sky early Monday morning, calling Buffalo firefighters into action in frigid weather.

Division Chief Patrick Britzalaro provided an on-scene update to WBFO.

"Upon arrival we had fire on the first and second floor, extending in the attic," Britzalaro said. "At the same time, the fire was communicated to the house next door, what we call an exposure property. It went up to the exterior of the building and into the second floor and attic. The attic of the exposure building was cut up like a maze. We couldn't actually find the main body of fire because it seemed the attic must have been walled off."

Britzalaro said damages are estimated at about $300,000.

"246 Busti is going to be $80,000 structure, $40,000 contents, 248 Busti is going to be $120,000 structure, $60,000," he said. "Everybody self-evacuated. We got a number of people who are going to need assistance from the Red Cross."

Buffalo Red Cross Spokesman Jay Bonafede said volunteers were called out to assist 11 people, "10 adults and one child." However, once on scene, 15 people needed emergency assistance.

Although no cause of the fire has been determined yet, Bonafede cautioned using some tips to keep homes safe during the winter.

"If you had a pipe freeze, for example, you don't want to use any kind of flame or anything to thaw out those pipes," he said. "You want to keep any space heaters you're using to keep your house warm, you want to keep them at least three feet away from any flammables. You want to have them on a flat surface as well. if you're using a fireplace, you want to make sure you have a screen to catch the embers and you put it out before you leave the house."

Britzalaro said a couple firefighters suffered minor "slip and fall" injuries at the scene because the scene was so slippery.

"It's like an ice skating rink," Britzalaro said, the water being sprayed over the two properties to put out the fire was freezing wherever it landed.

The on-ramp from Niagara Street to the 190 was closed during the fire during the morning commute, as the two homes are located adjacent to the Thruway.