NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A fire in North Tonawanda claimed the lives of a mother and her daughter. Firefighters knew there were people trapped inside a home, but couldn't get them out fast enough.
The fire started at a home on Third Avenue. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but there are reports of explosions which have not been confirmed. Police say 89-year-old Dorothy Burns and her daughter 62-year-old Kathy Watson died in the blaze.
Officials say crews who entered the front entrance of the home found Burns. EMS was started immediately. She was pronounced dead on the scene at 10:05 p.m. Another crew entered the back door of the home and found Watson, who transported to DeGraff Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
North Tonawanda Fire Department Chief John Lapham said, "It's always tough to handle loss of life, be it children, middle age, senior residents. I take it personally when it happens in my city. We'll do everything we can to make sure the families are taken care of, and come to a conclusion on this fire."
A neighbor described what she experienced Monday night. Krista Liau said, "I heard pop, pop, pop. I was like 'what is that?' and ran to the window, and I saw a police car parked right there. Nobody else was here yet, and I came running outside."
The neighbor says she has lived next to the home for eight years but never knew the women. She said they mostly stayed inside. She said they neighbors smoked, and at least one of them used oxygen tanks, but she says she did not hear an explosion.
"When they needed something, they'd come over and ask to borrow it. But there was always a gentleman who came to keep part of the yard up and bring her groceries," Liau said. "But you never really saw them. They kept to themselves."
Firefighters say the fire does not appear to be suspicious and that it is believed to have started in the living room.
"It will probably take the better part of a week or two to finalize the whole report," Chief Lapham said.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury in the blaze. Damage to the building and its contents add up to $35,000.
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