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Above and Beyond: Island home destroyed despite major firefighting effort

by jmaloni
Sat, Jun 16th 2012 01:50 am

Neighboring homes sustain damage

by Ray Pauley

Public Information Officer

Grand Island Fire Co.

At 6:16 p.m. on Monday, June 11, Grand Island firefighters responded to a reported structure fire at the home of Jeremy and Elizabeth Lange, after multiple calls for GIFC assistance.

Fire Chief Kevin Koch reported that the fire spread so quickly that the entire unattached garage was totally engulfed in flames when the first engine arrived on location within three minutes. Engines, Nos. 3, 4, and 5 and Ladder Truck No. 6 commenced a sustained interior and exterior attack on the house, but fire suppression crews encountered difficulty in keeping pace with the fire, which had penetrated the attic loft area directly beneath the roof of the house. A ventilation crew then opened a section of the roof so that Ladder Truck No. 6 could apply an increased volume of water to the core of the burning area.

Meanwhile, mutual aid personnel from Kenmore, Ellwood, Sheridan Park, and City of Tonawanda volunteer fire departments provided standby crews and also relieved exhausted Grand Island firefighters at the scene.

At 7:50 p.m., Chief Koch declared the fire under control, and an extensive overhaul commenced. Total damage was estimated at $150,000 to the structures and $100,000 to the contents.

In addition the fire was so intense that neighboring homes on both sides sustained siding damage, amounting to approximately $16,500. Grand Island Fire Investigators Chuck Berlinger and Mike DeMartin and their Erie County Sheriff's Department counterparts indicated that the fire started in the garage, but the exact cause remains under investigation.

Although the homeowners escaped without injury, two Grand Island firefighters were treated at the scene for dehydration/exhaustion-related problems, one for a foot injury, and were relieved from duty. Additionally, 19 others underwent rehab procedures.

Fire fighting operations photos were provided by Ray Pauley, Greg Butcher and Chuck Berlinger.

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