BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Intense flames shot from the roof of a building on E. Utica St. early Friday morning. When the smoke cleared a young family was found dead in an attic sleeping area.
“He was friendly, comical…everybody just loved him,” said Ruth Gouchie regarding her son Anthony Gouchie, 25. He died in the fire along with his girlfriend Emma Johnson, 28, and their daughter Amira Gouchie was not yet 2 years old.
Buffalo Fire Division Chief Peter Kertzie said firefighters searched the building twice but were unable to get to the attic in the initial searches because the attic stairway had burned. “Upon several searches over and over again, we called a primary and secondary search, but we went further than that like three and four searches and still could not find any occupants inside.”
When fire crews arrived the found a car in the driveway was fully engulfed. That fire spread to the home right below whether the family was sleeping.
“He had no car problems,” said Anthony Gouchie’s aunt “How does a car just light on fire at 2 o’clock in the morning. He had no issues with his vehicle whatsoever and now the car is gone and Mom and I and the sisters want answers. How does the car catch on fire to light the house on fire to kill three people. Somebody had to see something and they need to come forward. See something, say something.”
Relatives say Anthony worked at various stores and they see no reason why he would be targeted. “He loved to work. I mean if you could throw work at that kid he’d take it. I remember him taking my kids to go shovel snow to make money. I mean he is just a bright kid. He could literally light up a room.”
Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo called it a tragic event. “Everyone’s affected, everyone has children or grandchildren, you name it. We had our department chaplain was at the scene Father Paul Seil. We also have grief counselors available and people handle it different ways depending on how many years you got on the job, things of that nature. Some people are able to internalize it, tuck it away, so everyone reacts differently but obviously it was a big tragedy.”
The building suffered $150,000 in damage. The investigation continues to determine a cause.