The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

January 10, 2014

Chilly Rescue

By JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — MIDDLEPORT — Four children, their mother and another woman are safe after their second floor rescue Wednesday morning from a fire in a four-unit apartment building in the village of Middleport.

A total of five adults and eight children were displaced from the building, which was located at 143 Telegraph Road just east of Locust Drive and across the street from the FMC Middleport plant.

Middleport Police said an emergency call was made at about 9:35 a.m. with Middleport Volunteer Fire Co. responding to the scene. Route 31, which is Telegraph Road in Middleport, was shut down at Vernon Street and Hoffman Road in Shelby for about four hours Wednesday.

Middleport Police Chief John J. Swick was over on State Street for the start of school at Royalton-Hartland High School, as he normally is. He was just minutes from the scene, arriving first with Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Rodgers.

Residents reportedly told Swick everyone was out of the building except for a family on the second floor. Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour said the family was trapped in an apartment’s upstairs bedroom.

“When I got there, the people in apartments A and C were out in the parking area,” Swick said. “They informed us no one came out of B, but both (of the tenants in B) vehicles were still there, so they were probably inside.”

The school day for Royalton-Hartland Schools was delayed two hours because of inclement weather. So two of the older kids were about to picked up and bused to Roy-Hart Elementary in Gasport.

Swick kicked in the front door but was met with heavy black smoke. Instead, Swick and Rodgers ran to the back of the building and had the woman open a window in a bedroom. The six were in a bedroom, as instructed by Sheriff’s Office dispatch.

“It was great timing, they were there as we came around the back,” Swick said.

The mother lifted all four children – ranging in age from infancy to 7 years – out of the second story window and down to Swick.

Once the kids were safe, the mother and another woman were instructed to climb down to a first story roof. A ladder from a neighbor was used to get both women down, police said.

Middleport Fire quickly put out the fire, authorities said. Estimated cost of damage was unknown Wednesday, but at least apartment B was a total loss. It’s believed the fire started in that apartment.

Middleport Fire was assisted by Medina, Gasport Chemical Hose, Shelby and Hartland fire companies. Victims were taken by Tri-Town Ambulance to Medina Hospital for smoke inhalation.

All 13 people got out of the structure safely without any reported injuries, police said. Aside from the woman, the mother and kids on the second floor, four people were in one apartment while three others were in another apartment in the building. The fourth apartment was empty.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Niagara County Cause and Origin Team, authorities said.

Swick said a few animals passed away in the fire, possibly a dog and some cats. But it could’ve ended a lot worse.

“The great news is that everybody got out,” Swick said.

Jay Bonafede, the chief communications officer for the American Red Cross, said the families were put up in a hotel Wednesday. Victims are being assisted with vouchers for food, clothing and shelter, as well as baby supplies for the younger children.

Once their immediate needs are met, the Red Cross will continue to help the families with a longer term recovery, Bonafede said.