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April 1, 2019 - 4:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, notify, batavia.

After a meticulous investigation inside the burned-out home at 109 Evans St., Batavia, fire investigators have determined the fire that claimed the life of John Sherman, Sr., 41, has been ruled accidental.

In a press release, City Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano said investigators concluded the fire started on a stove top in the kitchen.

Joining city fire investigators in the investigation was a Batavia PD detective and two investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

There were eight people in the residence Saturday morning when the fire broke out and spread quickly. Smoke detectors and closed doors helped save the lives of several occupants, Napolitano said, but Sherman was unable to escape from a room on the second floor.

After Sherman was rescued by firefighters, medics initiated CPR and he was transported by Mercy EMS to UMMC, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Sherman was born Aug. 8, 1977, to Jan Beach of Batavia. He was a graduate of Alfred State and Empire State College and worked at Pizza Hut in Batavia and was recognized locally for his culinary and sculpting skills. He was a member of City Church and volunteered at the Animal Shelter. For his full obituary, click here.

Multiple pets were rescued or managed to escape the fire but one dog did die inside the residence.

In City Fire's release, Napolitano reminded residents of the importance of working smoke detectors and sleeping with bedroom doors closed.

Saturday, Napolitano said, "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."

March 31, 2019 - 1:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, batavia, news.

City fire is on scene of 109 Evans St., Batavia, the location of a fatal fire Saturday morning, after smoke was spotted coming from the building.

A commander on scene reports that there is some smoke coming from the second-floor eave.

The fourth platoon is requested to the Fire Hall.

Engine 11 and Ladder 15 are on scene.

March 30, 2019 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Evans Street, news, notify.

109evansfire200b.jpgA 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.

Previously:

March 30, 2019 - 10:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, batavia, notify.

One person died in a house fire this morning at 109 Evans St., Batavia.

The fire was reported at about 7:15 a.m.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they found heavy smoke and flames at the rear of the house from the ground floor to the roof line.

Capt. Bob Fix described the situation as "untenable" and it wasn't possible for firefighters to enter the house until the fire was knocked back.

"We were dispatched to report of a building on fire just down the street from the fire station," Fix said. "As we pulled out of the station we could see heavy smoke in the sky so we knew we had a fire."

There were at least seven people in the residence at the time the fire was reported, including four adults who lived in the house. Residents told firefighters that one person was still in the house and provided firefighters with the person's location in the residence.

"We found heavy smoke and flames coming from the back side of the building as well as several people telling us the there was a victim inside a window," Fix said. "We attempted to make entry. Conditions were untenable at the time. We got some water on the fire there and tried to make entry again a short time later."

Once firefighters were able to make entry, they located the victim on the second floor and carried him out a window and down a ladder. He was placed on a stretcher and Mercy EMS personnel immediately began performing CPR.

While CPR was in progress, he was transferred to a nearby ambulance and transported to UMMC where he was later pronounced dead.

The victim's name has not yet been released.

"As it happened, the call came in right shift change and we had quite a bit more people available than we normally would have," Fix said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and Chief Stefano Napolitano said it's too early in the investigation to even speculate about the cause. The origin appears to be on the first floor.

State Fire, as is standard operating procedure, assist City Fire with the fire investigation.

The house is uninhabitable and The Salvation Army was contacted to assist the four adults who lived at 109 Evans.

Three pets, two dogs and a cat, were rescued from the fire.

Assisting City of Batavia was Town of Batavia fire, Alexander fire, and Darien fire.

Also assisting at the scene was Batavia PD.

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March 30, 2019 - 7:18am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, batavia, news, notify.

Heavy smoke and fire are reportedly coming from a residence at 109 Evans St. in the city. City Engine #11 is on scene, reporting a working structure fire at a two and a half story building. Smoke and flames showing. One person is still said to be inside.

All city platoons are called to respond. Mercy medics are on scene. Alexander's Fast Team is called for mutual aid; Town of Batavia is to report to its quarters; and Darien's rescue unit is called to the scene.

UPDATE 7:20 a.m.: An engine from Town of Batavia fire is called to the scene; one other from the town is to report to its headquarters for standby. Firefighters are working to extricate a person from the house on Evans Street.

UPDATE 7:28 a.m.: "Fire's been knocked down; looking for any hidden fire," fire command resports, and the person inside has been extricated and is being seen by medics. Utilities have been notified.

UPDATE 7:31 a.m.: "Looking for hot spots in the ceiling -- C side," reports command, "no fire below you (on the first floor)." A crew is called to the second floor to pull open the ceiling to check for extensions.

UPDATE 7:36 a.m.: Working to ventilate the structure now.

UPDATE 7:41 a.m.: Stairs to the second floor are bad. Firefighters are to enter and exit from the C side ladder. Water and electricity have been secured -- cut -- to the building.

UPDATE 7:45 a.m.: "We're hitting some fire from the Bravo-Charlie (C-D) corner." The male resident, who was pulled from the second floor, which was fully charged with smoke, is being transported to UMMC in emergency mode.

UPDATER 8:32 a.m. (by Howard): Alexander and Town of Batavia going back in service. Salvation Army requested to the scene to assist four adults. Code enforcement also requested to the scene.

March 29, 2019 - 4:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, notify, Darien, fire.

Darien beekeeper and mead maker Michael Potoczak is managing to keep his chin up along with his spirits after a swift-moving fire early Sunday morning destroyed his businesses at 541 Bell Road.

Around 6 a.m. on March 24, callers half a mile away on Sumner Road called 9-1-1 to report the blaze. The Darien Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene quickly, but the buildings which contained the beekeeping and winemaking equipment were already "on the ground."

A Sheriff's deputy pounded on the door of the nearby house to alert the residents, prompting the family's two dogs to bark, waking up Potoczak and his two sons -- who all got out safely, including the dogs. A beloved 14-year-old calico cat named Lily perished in the fire.

"I tried to save my diesel truck," said the 77-year-old, who is an associate professor emeritus of Math and Physics at the University of Buffalo. "But it was so hot I couldn't even get near it to open the door."

The cause of the fire is unknown.

"I've really stood strong. I just deal with it. But it does get emotional," Potoczak said, noting that he lost all the equipment that he had accumulated during 45 years of beekeeping and making wine from honey on his 150-acre property.

He's not sure what the future holds for the businesses -- Potoczak Bee Farms and Midgard Winery -- but he will have a better idea of whether starting completely over is possible once the insurance claims are settled in the coming weeks.

Turns out the metal buildings, 40' by 60', were insured but nothing inside them was covered.

"They really did a number on me," he said. "The insurance agent came out and I took him through and showed him everything. He said I'd have the same coverage; it's not even close. He put in zero where it said the value of the contents and I didn't notice that. You have to have someone who knows insurance read the document to know what it says."

By Potoczak's estimation, his loss is worth $400,000 or more. He figures the buildings' value at $250,000 (insurance says $130,000), plus he lost the heating furnace, a new skidster worth $33,000 and the $20,000 diesel truck; $75,000 in winemaking equipment including four stainless steel fermenting tanks worth $4,000 each, filters, and $85,000 in beekeeping equipment.

How much he can recoup will influence his decision whether to continue the businesses, which are intended as a way for his children to make a living.

His customers, he says, "have been phenomenal" and are encouraging him to start anew.

His beehives are all outside and located at different 20 sites for his WNY customers. The mead, which he has sold for about five years, can be found in 50 WNY liquor stores, including locations in Genesee County (Mr. Wine & Liquor), Wyoming County (Warsaw, Attica), Orleans County (Medina), and Erie and Chautauqua counties. The fermented honey wine is about 12 percent alcohol by volume, on a par with, say, cabernet sauvignon.

Regardless of what the future holds, Potoczak's daughter, Elizabeth Knaus, said she is grateful to everyone who came to her family's rescue.

"I would like to send out a big thank you to the emergency personnel who responded so quickly," Knaus wrote in an email. "Also to the our neighbors who could see and hear the fire and called it in. If it wasn't for them, I probably would not have my dad or my brothers today. Thank you!"

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Knaus.

For initial report, click here.

March 28, 2019 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Stafford, news.

Stafford Fire Department is dispatched to the area of 6305 East Bethany-Le Roy Road, Stafford, for a report of a grass fire.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: A tanker from South Byron requested to the scene.

March 27, 2019 - 1:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in Le Roy, fire, news.

A brush fire 100 feet from a house is reported in Le Roy at 8751 W. Bergen Road. Le Roy fire and ambulance are responding. The location is between Quinlan Road and Lake Street Road.

UPDATE 1:27 p.m.: Bergen's brush truck is called to provide mutual aid.

UPDATE 1:56 p.m.: Fire is out.

March 24, 2019 - 6:21am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, Darien.

A working garage fire is reported at 541 Bell Road, Darien. The structure is about 40 to 50  square feet and is "on the ground" -- burned up -- at this point, but there are several exposures to other structures that firefighters will deal with, says a first responder on scene. There's a gap of 20 to 30 feet between the garage and another structure.

The city's Fast Team was called, then canceled. All available manpower from Darien is responding, along with mutual aid from Alexander, Pembroke, Corfu and Indian Falls.

There's a pond on Bell Road that firefighters may be able to access; it's estimated to be 1,050 feet from the fire.

The location is off Fargo Road and it's at the dead end of the street.

UPDATE 6:26 a.m.: Alexander is to fill in at Darien's Fire Hall. There's a live power line in front of the garage, firefighters are told.

March 21, 2019 - 7:30pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, fire, corfu.

All available manpower is called by East Pembroke Fire Department to a cornfield on fire 50 yards from a residence at 1688 Indian Falls Road in Corfu.

The location is between Little Falls Road and North Pembroke Road.

February 21, 2019 - 9:26am
posted by Alecia Kaus in fire, news, batavia, notify.

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The City of Batavia Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire at 33 Clifton Ave., Batavia, a little after 3 a.m., Thursday. 

Residents evacuated the single-family home prior to the fire department's arrival. Smoke was reported inside the residence.

City fire requested a second alarm and declared a working structure fire.

Crews from Alexander's Fast Team and Elba fire responded while the Town of Batavia was on standby in their hall.

According to Chief Napolitano with the City of Batavia Fire Department, a working fire was discovered in the basement.

"There was a mother and daughter along with a granddaughter in the house," Napolitano said.

"They received assistance from the Salvation Army, and the home is deemed uninhabitable at this time because of the damage in the basement to the furnace and the hot water tank and associated plumbing and electrical with those units."

One resident walked down the driveway holding a dog. According to City fire, several cats were still inside.

The fire was under control in about 30 minutes.

Chief Napolitano says the fire is currently under investigation and the cause has yet to be determined.

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February 18, 2019 - 2:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, thruway, batavia, news.

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A tractor-trailer fire is reported on the Thruway in the area of mile marker 390.6.

The truck is fully involved and a trooper on scene reports the fire is starting to get into the trailer.

Town of Batavia fire dispatched. Mutual aid requested from Le Roy, Elba, and Oakfield.

UPDATE 2:27 p.m.: The westbound lanes of the Thruway are being shut down.

UPDATE 3:36 p.m.: Thruway assignment back in service.

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February 8, 2019 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Le Roy.

A chimney fire is reported at 9420 Warsaw Road, Le Roy.

Le Roy fire along with Bergen dispatched. City of Batavia Fast Team requested to the scene.

The house is charged with smoke and there's fire in the ceiling, according to a chief on scene.

UPDATE 4:29 p.m.: City fire first platoon requested to headquarters.

UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: The fire appears to be out. Checking for extension.

UPDATE 4:54 p.m.: Bergen can go back in service.

UPDATE 5:13 p.m.: Le Roy back in service.

February 7, 2019 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, batavia.

A power line is reportedly on fire on Otis Street in the City of Batavia.

City fire responding. 

UPDATE 1:31 p.m.: City fire on location. Smoke showing. It's a high-tension line against a tree, arcing and burning.

February 2, 2019 - 9:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Le Roy, fire.

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A structure fire with smoke showing is reported at 3 W. Main St., Village of Le Roy Hall. The location is just west of Clay Street. Le Roy Fire Department is responding, along with City of Batavia fire. The second platoon is called to city fire headquarters on Evans Street.

Stafford and Town of Batavia fire departments are also called to respond.

UPDATE 10:16 pm.: All second-alarm responders are back in service.

UPDATE 10:17 p.m.: Le Roy Fire Chief Tom Wood said the initial call was for an automatic smoke alarm -- smoke in the building. His first assessment determined smoke was billowing from the bell tower. The first crew on scene discovered a broken water pipe that was leaking onto another pipe and creating steam. Mutual aid was canceled.

January 31, 2019 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Pavilion.

A chimney fire that is said to be contained, though flames are showing, is reported at 6516 Keller Road, Pavilion.

The location is between Roanoke Road and Transit Road.

The family cannot evacuate because of an elderly resident.

Pavilion fire along with Le Roy and Stafford dispatched.

UPDATE 10:27 a.m.: The homeowner told a first responder he believes the fire burned itself out. Responders warned about road conditions.

UPDATE 10:28 a.m.: Working fire in stove pipe. It's contained to the pipe. The family being assisted with evacuation.

UPDATE 10:32 a.m.: No smoke in the residence.

January 29, 2019 - 6:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, byron, notify.

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A mother and her adult son lost their home at 6123 Cook Road, Byron, on Monday after a fire erupted inside the residence at 7:10 p.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Byron and South Byron responded to the fire with mutual aid from Bergen, Stafford, Elba, and departments in Orleans and Monroe counties. The City's Fast Team also responded.

Byron Chief Robert Mruczek said the house was fully involved when he arrived on scene and he immediately called for a second alarm.

The firefighting effort was hampered by the cold and the wind. With slick roads and fire hydrants buried in snow, it was difficult to get water to the scene, Mruczek said. A metal roof also prevented firefighters from opening vents.

"We were trying to go to the inside to knock it down as fast as we possibly could," Mruczek said. "That was hampered due to the weather conditions for our water supply, so we started to attack from the outside and then the wind kicked up. The wind did not help us."

The weather conditions made it tough on the volunteers who responded to the fire, Mruczek. A school bus was set up to provide a rehab station. Firefighters are rotated from fighting the fire to rehab about every 20 or 30 minutes so they stay fresh, stay hydrated, and don't risk hypothermia. 

"They work hard," Mruczek said. "You know, they do their thing. They're on the hose line. They're trying to get into the building and you've got to keep on rotating in and out because it's tiresome in the cold. You freeze up, the water freezes on you and you've got to exchange."

Both mother and son escaped the house and were physically unharmed. They are being cared for by the Salvation Army. They had no pets.

"It's unfortunate," Mruczek said. "It's sad. With the winter weather, these things happen and you try to do the best you can and you hope for the best. Fortunately, nobody got hurt. That's the good thing. Everybody's OK."

(Initial Report)

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January 29, 2019 - 5:46am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, news, byron, south byron.

The fire at 6123 Cook Road in Byron, which was first reported shortly after 7 o'clock last night, has rekindled. Byron and South Byron fire departments are responding.

"It's going fairly good," says a first responder at the scene.

UPDATE 5:48 a.m.: A pumper and a tanker from Elba are called to provide mutual aid.

January 28, 2019 - 7:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, byron, notify.

A house fire is reported at 6123 Cook Road, Byron.

It is apparently a chimney fire. 

Byron and South Byron dispatched. Bergen also dispatched.

UPDATE 7:16 p.m.: Flames showing. Second alarm requested.

UPDATE(S) (By Billie) 7:19 p.m.: It has gone to a second alarm. Stafford is asked to send one engine and one tanker to the scene; the city's Fast Team is called to respond and its fourth platoon is to report to headquarters.

UPDATE 7:35 p.m.: Byron and South Byron auxiliaries are requested to the scene.

UPDATE 8:15 p.m.: Bethany Fire Department is called to stand by in quarters.

UPDATE 11:31 p.m. (by Howard): All units back in service.

January 26, 2019 - 12:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, batavia.

A kitchen fire, reported as a structure fire, is reported at 62 S. Main St., Batavia.

It's a lower apartment. Occupants are evacuating.

City fire dispatched.

UPDATE 12:22 a.m.: Police officers on scene report heavy smoke showing.

UPDATE 12:24 a.m.: A first responder says flames are showing at the back of the structure.

UPDATE 12:26 a.m.: "Small kitchen fire. Looks like it's extending into the cabinets. Have water on it now," says a firefighter.

UPDATE 12:30 a.m.: Fire is out; checking for extensions. Fourth platoon is called to city fire headquarters.

UPDATE 12:46 a.m.: Fire command requests Red Cross to aid two adults and four children who live in the apartment.

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