BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Investigators believe the father of Anthony Conti, the seven-year-old boy who died in a house fire in Buffalo's Lovejoy neighborhood, accidentally started the fire with a blowtorch.
Conti was never supposed to be inside the Benzinger Street home, as according to a Buffalo City Court official, an order of protection was issued on behalf of Conti's wife Lisa on January 18, stemming from an incident on New Year's Eve.
Spectrum News has learned Joe Conti was using the blowtorch to light a cigarette. He then sat the torch onto a mattress, igniting the fire.
Anthony was pronounced dead at the hospital not long after he was pulled from the burning house. Firefighters found his body in the kitchen, a few steps away from his bedroom.
It's not clear if Joe Conti will face any charges in connection with the fire.
Joe Conti was supposed to appear in court Tuesday to answer to a second-degree harassment charge, but did not show up. His next court date is set for February 6.
On Monday, a devastated Conti was consoled by neighbors.
"One thing I lost. One thing. We got five out of six of the kids out. One we couldn't get. I just feel like I failed," said Conti.
"He hugged mom a thousand times a day, told her he loved her. He was just a good boy, a great boy, just a sweet boy, no issues whatsoever. The schools loved him. Just an all around amazing kid. On top of, he was gorgeous."
The Conti children ranged in in age from 3 to adult. Six of them were home when the fire broke out.
"I'm just really grateful for everyone. It's hard to lose a brother. It's just hard," said 14-year-old Angelo.
Dawn Richards lives just down the block and said the Conti family and children were known for their respect and for always saying hello, known on the block for always lending a helping hand.
"They've been very nice since I've moved in about a year and a half ago,” Richards said. “I'm sorry, I just lost a daughter two years ago and I know how hard it is. It doesn't get any easier."
"The father is a mechanic and he would always help me and like I said, if you had problems with your car he would walk down the street in his bare feet if he had to just help you out."
"I heard some glass breaking and then I looked to the window because it faces the street and we saw the flames and the fire department here. Everybody, most of the neighbors were already on the street," said Father Vlad Zabkotskyy of St. Peter’s and Paul Orthodox Church, a neighbor and close family friend. “This is devastating.”
The family did not have insurance on the house, which firefighters said was a total loss.
"We got a couple pairs of shoes and stuff and boots and stuff for my sisters, and that's it," Angelo said.
Donations were piling up at the Mead Library, and a GoFundMe was set up for the family.
"I want to say thank you to everyone. Everyone in Lovejoy that has come and showed their support and offered us things, and there's another one there behind us. They're family as well. They're all angels. I've lived here all my life, and when you do good things for people, they come flying back at your tenfold," Joe Conti said.