Damage estimated at about $325,000
by Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer, Grand Island Fire Co.
At 8:36 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, Grand Island Fire Co. firefighters responded to a structure fire at 303 Park Place, which had been reported by a neighbor who noticed "heavy smoke coming from the eaves." This home has been under construction by Joel Kruppa, a Niagara Falls firefighter who was not on the premises when the fire erupted.
Arriving firefighters encountered a fully involved fire in the two-story new build and immediately initiated fire suppression operations using engines Nos. 4 and 5, according to GIFC Chief Kevin Koch. However, it was soon discovered that the first floor had become compromised when floor joists had burned through, and interior attack crews had to be withdrawn. A ladder truck from the Brighton Volunteer Fire Department then played a critical role in initiating a second floor attack to bolster firefighting efforts in other areas. Sheridan Park VFD and City of Tonawanda FD also provided mutual aid assistance.
The fire was declared out at 9:44 p.m. when an extensive overhaul was undertaken. GIFC Fire Investigator Chuck Berlinger reports that the fire started in the basement and quickly spread upward, causing heavy damage. The exact cause has not yet been determined, according to Berlinger and his Erie County Sheriff's Office counterparts Steve Merboth and Shawn Hediger.
Koch estimated total damage to the structure and contents at $325,000.
Fire officials also point out that modern lightweight construction poses greater danger to firefighters because of its failure potential.
It was also noted the GIFC personnel handled two other emergencies during this fire: a cardiac arrest on Whitehaven Road, and a defective dimmer switch (fire) on Adel Lane. There were no injuries reported at any of these incidents, and all participating units returned to service by 10:55 p.m.