When Pete Tucci heard his dogs barking around 8:15 a.m., he thought he better take a look out his back window.
"It was like the sun had landed in my back yard," Tucci said, describing the big balls of flame bursting from the rear of his neighbor's house at 7167 W. Main St. Road, Le Roy.
"I went out my back door and I could feel the heat, like an octopus all around me, and there were huge flames, just a big blasts of flames," Tucci said.
Tucci was concerned that his neighbor and friend, Chuck Lathan, whose truck was still in the driveway, was trapped inside.
Le Roy Police Officer Daryl Robb knocked down the front door, but heat and smoke beat him back and he wasn't able to get into the house.
"It was just too thick to get inside," Robb said, adding, "If you don't try, you'll always second guess yourself."
Fortunately, Lathan wasn't inside. He recently started working day shifts, so he was at work, as was his wife, something Genesee County emergency dispatchers confirmed early in the fire.
Le Roy Fire, aided by Bergen, Stafford, Pavilion and Caledonia responded quickly to the fire once reported. (Churchville filled in at Le Roy's hall.)
Tucci said Stafford firefighters started spraying down his house to protect it from the fire as soon as they arrived on scene.
"They did a great job saving my house," Tucci said.
The cause and origin of the fire is yet to be determined, but early indications, an investigator said, are it started around the wood-burning stove in the house.
The house is a complete loss, and possibly all seven cats owned by the Lathans perished in the fire.
"Chuck and Ellie are such great neighbors," Tucci said. "They're really sweet people, and they lost everything."
(Initial Report (including video))
If the slide show doesn't work right for you, click here.