ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Four young people were killed this morning when fire raged through a house containing side-by-side apartments at 80 Grape St. on Rochester's west side.
Rochester Fire Chief John Caufield said the four people killed were in their teens and younger. All four were found on the second floor of the building.
Four other people were taken by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital for treatment, so for burns.
Caufield said firefighters were initially called to the address shortly before 1 a.m. for a report of a rubbish fire. Firefighters found what appeared to be clothes burning on a sidewalk and extinguished them.
"Investigators knocked on the doors to try to talk to the people inside, but nobody responded," Caufield said. "As part of normal duties, firefighters did a quick survey of the building. They walked around and discovered a fire that appeared to have occurred while we were here."
Caufield said investigators immediately called for extra units to help fight the fire, which spread "very quickly."
"The whole first floor was heavily involved with fire," Caufield said. "The initial crew that was here made entry into the building and rescued a woman and an infant from the first-floor apartment. And in the short time it took to make that rescue, the fire flashed over and took over the whole first floor and extended quickly to the second floor."
Deputy Chief Martin McMillan and Caufield said firefighters could see people moving on the second floor of the house and made heroic efforts to try and make rescues.
"Truck 10 was the next arriving unit from the firehouse just two or three blocks away," Caufield said. "They made entry up to the second floor, and were just getting in and the fire extended in that short time from the first floor to the second floor. It was starting to come out the windows."
Despite that, Caufield said, the rescue attempts continued.
"The firefighters were actually enveloped in flames for a brief time," Caufield said. "We withdrew them. There was just no possible way for them to make a search or any further entry in there without sacrificing their own lives."
McMillan said firefighters were five seconds away from entering the second-floor windows when the fire flashed over the floor.