Three children, ages 7, 8 and 10, died in a house fire in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday. Three other children and an adult woman were injured.
The cause of the fire is currently being investigated, but it is believed to have started in the dining room area of the single-family, 1.5-story home on Dartmouth Street.
The house was occupied by six children ranging from 7 months to 10 years of age, as well as one woman, who is believed to be the children’s grandmother.
Upon arrival, first responders performed emergency life-saving procedures on five of the children, who were in cardiac arrest, before they were taken to the hospital.
They were able to evacuate all of the individuals from the house. However, three of the children, all girls aged 7, 8, and 10, were pronounced dead shortly after being taken to the hospital. Two of the children and the adult woman are currently in critical condition.
The fire comes just days after a winter storm hit the western New York region, killing at least 40 people.
According to Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo, the year has taken a “heavy toll” on the city’s fire department. The Buffalo Fire Department has described the events as a “tragedy” and an “emotional time.”
Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz expressed his deepest condolences to the family” via Twitter.
“Our city was struck by tragedy again as 3 girls aged 7, 8 and 10 were killed in a morning fire on Dartmouth St and 2 other children and their grandmother are in critical condition,” he said.
As just announced by the Buffalo FD, our city was struck by tragedy again as 3 girls aged 7, 8 and 10 were killed in a morning fire on Dartmouth St and 2 other children and their grandmother are in critical condition. My deepest condolences to the family. https://t.co/BsWZOuxLHY
— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) December 31, 2022
A city in trial
Poloncarz also confirmed that at least 37 people had died in the county as a result of the storm, with 29 in the Buffalo area. The city was hit by a once-in-a-generation blizzard that brought around 40 inches of snow.
A driving ban was put in place in Buffalo. However, it was lifted on Thursday. Now, suburban roads, highways, and Buffalo Niagara International Airport had already reopened.
On the previous day, Mayor Byron Brown announced that the ban would be lifted after midnight while highlighting the “significant progress” made in snow removal. However, he cautioned residents against unnecessary travel.
Local authorities are still searching for people who may be trapped or deceased as the snow begins to melt.
The city is now bracing for potential flooding as rain is forecast for the end of the week. There are also more to add to the concern as the snow from the storm melts and temperatures rise to as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that the state is prepared with nearly 800,000 sandbags and more than 300 pumps and generators to address any potential flooding issues.
“We will continue to work closely with local partners to help communities recover,” wrote the governor on Twitter on Wednesday. “We are working around the clock to help Western New York recover from this historic winter storm and we won’t stop until the job is done.”
An unpredictable hero
Amid the tragedy of the devastating snowstorm, some heartwarming stories have emerged. One such story is that of Jay Withey, a man from Buffalo who is being hailed as a hero after saving 24 homeless people during the blizzard.
When Withey’s truck got stuck on the road, he was forced to sleep in his vehicle with two strangers. After being turned down by everyone he approached for shelter, Withey had to find a new place to stay.
He decided to break into a nearby school and took shelter there with 25 other people, including seven senior citizens. Withey and his group made sure only to use what they needed and left the school in good condition, even fixing a broken window before they left.
When school officials and the police department were notified of the break-in, they searched for the hero. They decided not to press charges, instead thanking Withey for his bravery.