Note: Video of this fire can be found here http://hoopieworld.com/wp2/2014/01/video-of-erie-firefighters-doing-roof-work
The fire at 533 W. 3rd Street started at 3AM Sunday and left the home unsalvageable. Both residents – a grandmother and her grandson – safely evacuated, but lost their pet dog to the fire.
When crews arrived on scene, heavy smoke and flames were emitting from the back of the house, creating challenging conditions for the Erie Fire Department.
“They had trouble making entry because of the heavy black smoke and a lot of heat,” said John Widomski, an Erie fire inspector. “By the time they got entry, the fire had progressed up the steps to the second floor.”
The weather also created another challenge.
“It was cold, snowy, and there was a breeze coming out of the south.” Widomski said. “Just enough breeze that it pushed the fire along from the back to the front. It doesn’t take much.”
Yet another factor that made the fire a challenging one to tackle – one neighboring house was only six to seven feet away.
“They had to take a crew and protect that house while the other crews were fighting the fire at this house, so you kind of split people up and use your manpower,” Widomski said.
“We were a little worried but we were more concerned about the house on the other side going. We knew the firemen were fighting the fire from this side,” said Sister Nancy Fischer, who lives in the home east of 533 W. 3rd.
“Our house is further away because the house that was here, burned,” Fischer said.
An empty lot divides Fischer’s home from 533.
Widomski said the exact cause of the fire was difficult to pinpoint due to the severity of the damage to the house. But the inspection did reveal that the house had old wiring, which has a higher tendency to fail or overheat.