Tonawanda News

The Town

October 9, 2013

Town incident eerily similar to Webster tragedy

Fire call brings back memories of NY tragedy


Tonawanda News — “The all clear was given after about a half hour to 45 minutes of our arrival,” Tracey said. “Then we went defensive with the fire, preventing it from spreading to other homes.”

The body wasn’t found until between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., after the home was completely destroyed. 

Tracey said that they were told to stay out of visible sight while working the fire and that police and SWAT officers with guns drawn surrounded them for protection.

“I’ve never responded to this kind of thing,” Tracey said. “It was kind of bizarre. Tonawanda is a small community, you never think this could happen here. It brought back memories of Webster.”

According to Tracey, there will be a standard review of the incident and response with the police, fire departments and town supervisor in the coming days.

Tracey said the situation went well as there were no casualties to civilians or emergency crews.

Others agreed.

“Dispatchers did an unbelievable job,” Chatham said. “There was a unified command post and a game plan that worked.”

Palumbo, the police chief, said the decision to let the home burn was ultimately one to ensure the safety of first responders.

“It was somewhat difficult, because we knew there would be significant damage to the house and possibly fire damage to some other nearby homes,” Palumbo said. “I knew we had some space, but in the end, we have to protect life and limb.” 

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