Buffalo Residents Rescued From Burning Apartment

11:16 PM, Nov 17, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Red Cross is assisting 25 people after they were burned out of their homes in an apartment building in North Buffalo Friday morning.

The blaze broke out around 9:30 at a three story building on Amherst Street near Delaware Avenue.

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield says approximately 50 people lived in the building.

Photo Gallery: Resident Rescued from Apartment Fire

WEB EXTRA: Help those displaced through the Red Cross

Lucky It Wasn't Worse:

Four people, including a Fire Chief, were injured, but none seriously.

The Fire Commissioner says this was due in no small part to the quick actions of two off duty firemen, a Drug Enforcement Agent, and some contractors working down the street who all helped get residents out.

"This could have been a very tragic scenario here, with people trapped inside, disoriented with a raging fire, and we could have had very tragic consequences," said Whitfield. "We were wonderfully blessed to have those guys that happened by here and everything went very well all things considered."

Residents on the upper floors could be seen climbing down ladders to safety.

Terrifying Moments:

"I was so terrified," said Felicia Truman, an occupant of the building who made her way out unscathed,  only to turn and see a neighbor jumping from an upper floor to escape the smoke and flames.

"She jumped out of a second story window because she didn't know what else to do, and she had smoke all over her she had all this dust...and then they carried her over to the ground and they laid her down...this is very traumatic," a shaken Truman said.

Another resident of the building, Adrianus Ridderhoff, stood in the cool morning air wrapped in a blanket, explaining that it was about all he had time to grab.

He recalled being momentarily trapped in his apartment, with no way out.

"I felt the door to the hallway and it wasn't warm...but when I opened it a cloud of smoke just billowed in. I shut the door and packed the crack beneath it, then opened up the windows to get as much fresh air in as I could," Ridderhoff said. "being on the third floor, all the smoke was just rising, and it got pretty bad pretty quick so I was just hanging out the window waiting for them to come get me."

Searching For A Cause:

Investigators say the fire started, and was contained, in one apartment, although there was water and smoke damage to other parts fo the building.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and damage is being estimated at $225,000.

As of 4pm Friday, the fire chief and one of the residents had been released from the hospital, while two other residents remained at ECMC with non-life threatening injuries.

Click on the video player above this story to watch our report from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer. Click here to read Dave McKinley's blogs. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2 

 

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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