A deadly fire at 109 Evans St., Batavia, this morning, claimed the life of 41-year-old John Sherman Sr., said City Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano this afternoon while supervising the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire.
He said it's too soon yet to even speculate on how the fire started.
There were at least six or seven other people in the residence when the fire started, Napolitano said, and some of them owe their lives to smoke detectors and the fact that they were sleeping with the doors of their bedrooms closed.
"A room that has a door closed is a safe haven," Napolitano said. "They were alerted by a smoke detector and they were able to safely exit the house. That is why it's so critical when you have young children or yourself in a home. You need to sleep with the door closed. It stops the fire from entering. It gives you a shelter so you can shelter in place, a safe haven, or whatever you want to call it. But it gives you an opportunity to escape."
Sherman was the owner of the 1,528-square-foot house, which was built in 1890 and has an accessed value of $69,000.
Evans Street remains closed during the ongoing investigation but Napolitano said the investigation is nearing completion.
Joining city fire investigators in the house is a Batavia PD detective and two investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.
It's city fire policy to call in state investigators when there is a fatal fire.
Napolitano described the investigation process as meticulous.
"They're methodically going through layer by layer, removing debris, removing furniture, trying to put a puzzle together, if you will," Napolitano said. "You know when you open up that box with all the puzzle pieces and you have to find the outside edge first, and then you build. That's what they're doing. They're building a puzzle."
It's a bit like reverse engineering the fire, he said.
"We're trying to figure out, OK, from the patterns and the indicators that were left, how and where that fire started, and how it traveled, where it migrated to, what could be a cause, what could be the origin."
The chief said the results of the investigation will be released as soon as some conclusions are reached about the findings.