BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Several families are picking up the pieces in the Black Rock neighborhood after a three-alarm fire destroyed one home and damaged two others. One firefighter was hurt.
More than 70 firefighters responded to the fire on Peter Street around 3:45 a.m. Friday.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but fire investigators confirm the fire started on the first floor of the home at 73 Peter Street, and moved quickly.
“All I can do is reach for my dog. Felt him, grabbed him, ran outside. With no shoes, no clothes, no nothing,” recalled Lisa Jakubowski after escaping from her burning home.
“I heard a popping noise and then my friend saw the spark, and then within 15 seconds, that little spark was a major, major explosion and the windows just popped, and the smoke was so heavy,” Jakubowski told News 4.
Neighbors described the scene as “unbelievable”. “I looked out my front window and the house was totally in flames,” said Bobby Kiblin, who lives across the street from the fire scene. “Flames shooting out of the front door, the window, the attic.”
When firefighters arrived, they found intense flames extending up through the second story of the house and starting to spread to the homes on either side. The homes in this area are just feet from each other, with no driveways in between.
“Our crews are very professional. We do an awesome job at what we do. That’s why I commend my crews for keeping the fire to the building of origin with minor damage to the exposures,” said Deputy Buffalo Fire Commissioner Johnathan Eaton.
A man who lives in the house to the right of the one where the fire started tells News 4 he woke up to firefighters coming into his apartment to get him out.
Kiblin says he thought all of the firefighters did a great job saving what the neighboring homes from more extensive damage. “I take my hat off to the firefighters. At this temperature, being out here and they saved — you can see, if it wasn’t for them, these houses would be engulfed, just like the one that already was,” he said.
“It just seems like it doesn’t want to stop burning,” Kiblin added.
Firefighters fought the stubborn flames for hours, and moved to a defensive attack when the situation became too dangerous.
At one point, fire blew through the large window on the second story of the house where the fire started, causing a power line attached to the house above it to fall. The live wire landed on the ground “inches from a firefighter,” according to a Buffalo Police lieutenant on the scene.
The deputy fire commissioner says one firefighter was hit with debris as the chimney collapsed, but suffered only minor injuries. He is expected to be okay.
All of the residents made it safely out of the three homes affected by the fire, although Jakubowski says she lost everything.
“I have nothing,” she told News 4. “When I say nothing, people have lent me boots and hats and the coat you see on me.”
Even so, Jakubowski says she has reason to be grateful. “I’m thankful for everybody that is here right now. I’m thankful to be alive,” she said.
The Red Cross is helping eight adults and eight children after Friday morning’s fire.
Fire officials say they have called for emergency demolition of the home where the fire started.