Tonawanda News

April 24, 2014

Fire destroys city home

Police investigating cause of blaze after domestic call was made

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda police officers are investigating a rapidly spreading fire that destroyed a single-family ranch home Wednesday morning, authorities said. 

Fire officials were notified of the incident at 8:56 a.m., Fire Chief Charles Stuart said. When firefighters arrived, the two elderly residents were safely outside of home, located at 53 Coronet Drive. 

“There was a lot of fire in the rear of the building, and it spread into the attic,” Stuart said. “Shortly after our guys went in the door, it consumed the front area as well ... so we backed out and fought it” from outside. 

Stuart said the fire originated in a back bedroom and spread extremely quickly, in part due to wind. 

“Typically we don’t see fire spread at this rate. We don’t know how much of a head start it got before we got there, but it accelerated through the house more rapidly than we usually see,” Stuart said. 

Fire authorities were on the scene for three hours. The couple’s dog died in the fire and the home suffered an extensive amount of damage — valued at about $100,000. 

“The family is distraught,” Stuart said. “They pretty much lost everything in their home and their little dog as well.”

Investigators reported to the home to probe the cause of the fire, Police Capt. Fred Foels said, as a result of a domestic disturbance complaint that officers received at 8:53 a.m. — minutes before firefighters were notified of the blaze.

“They were en route to that house on a domestic call that was called in by the daughter of the occupants,” Foels said. “She said ‘my parents were involved in a domestic incident.’”

The fire had broken out by the time officers arrived at the home. 

“We haven’t yet ruled out that the fire isn’t related to the domestic call, and we have to rule out every possibility,” Foels said. 

Stuart said the elderly male resident, who is 84-years-old, suffers from dementia and the domestic call could have been a result of his confusion. 

“We verified where the fire started, but how it started will be a matter of interviewing the wife and husband,” Stuart said. “The police are working along with us to determine exactly what happened.”

The North Tonawanda Fire Department and the Brighton Fire Department assisted Tonawanda at the scene. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.