A structure fire is reported at 404 Jackson St. It's across from Jackson School. Multiple calls have been received. Flames are seen coming from the rear of the house, which has three or four apartments. City fire just arrived.
UPDATE 9:46 a.m.: This has gone to a second alarm. Alexander Fast Team is called to respond along with Elba and Town of Batavia. Mercy medics are to report to the school's bus loop to treat a patient with possible smoke inhalation. Command at the scene reports potential fire exposure problems to nearby property.
UPDATE 9:55 a.m.: The multi-family dwelling is next to Max Pies Furniture.
UPDATE 10:06 a.m.: Jackson School has been evacuated.
UPDATE 10:10 a.m.: A neighbor at the scene says four dogs also live at the house. Their status is unknown.
UPDATE 10:13 a.m.: A worker(s) from National Fuel just arrived.
UPDATE 10:22 a.m.: National Grid is on scene.
UPDATE 10:24 a.m.: Command asks a dispatcher to contact the city's Public Works department to see what can be done to improve water pressure.
UPDATE 10:36 a.m.: Students at Jackson School are being dismissed. Schoolchildren who use bus transportation are directed to the back of the school where they will be picked up by busses in about 15 minutes and taken to their appropriate stops.
UPDATE 11:04 a.m.: Jim Sanders, who was inside Max Pies Furniture when the fire broke out, said: "I walked out of the store because I seen smoke. So I walked around the building and I could see the fire coming out the whole back of the house. So I called 9-1-1. ... It wasn't more than a few minutes than the fire company arrived. They were putting water on our building (Max Pies) so it wouldn't catch ours."
UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: Five dogs perished in this fire. The loading area for the children to board buses was changed to the nearby Ascension Parish parking lot. Some children have been picked up or are waiting for buses/rides inside the parish rec hall.
UPDATE 11:26 a.m.: "Heard like a car going by, revving it's engine," said eyewitness Tim Balonek. "A heard a whoosh, a big whoosh. Then I looked out and the back window was totally engulfed in flames. That's when I called (for) the fire department. They already had trucks on the way."
UPDATE 11:41 a.m.: Interim Fire Chief Dan Herberger said the fire call came in shortly before 10 o'clock this morning and upon arrival firefighters found advanced fire and started an aggressive interior response. Subsequently, high winds prompted them to change to defensive tactics and crews were ordered out of the building. "(The structure) was a business at some point. So it's heavily cut up with additions. It makes it challenging." Max Pies store is only 10 feet away but suffered no significant damage. Two adults and one child made it out of the burning structure safely. "Unfortunately, five dogs perished," Herberger said. No firefighters or other people were injured; the person who was evaluated in the school bus loop for possible smoke inhalation was not transported to the hospital. Herberger said they called for the school to be evacuated as a precautionary measure. There was a lot of smoke blowing around. Witnesses said the school evacuation went smoothly; some children were scared and crying when they left and some parents appeared "a little freaked out," but things were handled calmly and orderly nonetheless. All bags/belongings were supposed to be left at the school.