BUFFALO, N.Y. — A massive fire on Troupe Street in Buffalo has reduced four homes to rubble, and damaged several houses across the street as well.
The fire burnt at 900 degrees in Buffalo's Babcock Neighborhood, turning wood into charcoal. Cleanup is underway as suspicion grows about how the flames sparked.
The call came just after 4:30 a.m. and crews did everything they could to keep the flames contained.
Buffalo police confirm the property is owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and was undergoing a "gut rehab." Renovation work started in May.
"The first in company reported heavy fire. Yeah, the flames were shooting across the street," said Battalion Chief Pete Lotcki of the Buffalo Fire Department.
Lotocki says those first crews had to move their trucks to keep those from getting damaged.
"The fire was rapidly spreading, very quickly, upon arrival we called a second alarm right away," he said. "We brought in some extra resources here and we were able to contain it to the original site. "
However, Lotocki says even if it was just the four unit row house that was burning to the ground, 14 other homes were in jeopardy — the damage can be seen on the remnants of the street.
It was a race against time to make sure the residents inside these homes were safe.
"We evacuated some immediately across the street here to get them out of harms way," Lotocki said.
Tuesday morning, they are left shaken and so grateful. Susan Pangburn woke up to a neighbor pounding on her window.
"The ashes were blowing, you couldn't even go on my porch you could feel the heat," Pangburn said.
She frantically woke up her daughters and was ready to flee — prepared for not if, but when her home would catch fire.
"It's definitely the scariest thing I've been through," she said.
Pangburn says the damage to her home is nothing compared to what was lost across the street. She says the building was supposed to be for Puerto Rican refuges.
"I don't necessarily want to talk about what we were planning for it at the moment because I think all the plans were in flux," said Gillian Brown, BMHA's interim executive director and general counsel.
Brown says the affordable housing project is part of what's called "Scattered Site See." Across the city there are 19 units, losing four is a major set back.
"These are really burnt down to the ground," Gillian said. "Really, there is nothing left at all except the basements. And we probably aren't going to keep those because they are filled with water and most likely have heat damage."
Brown says keeping with their mission, they will rebuild, making sure everyone in Buffalo has a place to call home.
The Fire Marshals Office is urging anyone with information to call them at 851-1451.
Officials say there were no injures reported as a result of the fire.