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Monday, March 14, 2022

Accidental fire destroys 2 residences on Basom's Tonawanda Reservation

A propane tank that was tipped over in a home on Meadville Road this morning ignited an accidental fire, destroying that residence and the one in front of it.

A 31-year-old woman suffered burns and was treated on scene, Alabama Fire Chief Gary Patnode said. No other injuries were reported.

Firefighters were dispatched at about 7:30 a.m. to 7011 Meadville Rd.

“There was a story-and-a-half structure (in the back). It started in the back residence and spread to the front,” Patnode said.

The two structures were close enough that they were almost touching, he said. The home in the front was a single-story, modular home.

“There were a total of 10 people at this place. I’m not sure who was living where,” he said. “The occupant of the rear structure did come back to the scene to seek medical attention for some burns on her face. She was treated on scene and released.”

The occupants ranged from 2 years old to 31. There were four adults and six children, Patnode said. The fire chief said when firefighters got to the scene, the residents had already left and gone to the homes of friends or family.

“We got early confirmation that everybody was out and accounted for,” he said. “She (the injured woman) stated a propane heater tipped and ignited the couch and it spread. I was able to obtain an interview from her when she was in the back of the ambulance.

“We received a 911 call that there were flames and smoke seen throughout the structure,” he said. “We could see the smoke from the fire station. It was already well into the front structure and the back structure had collapsed.”

Patnode said there were no hydrants on the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Reservation from which to draw water.

“We used all of our tank water first and we had to set up a tanker relay,” he said. “It’s just typical of what we deal with in the rural firefighting setting. “That’s our biggest nemesis over there, that we don’t have a sustainable water source. We were utilizing a hydrant at the Genesee-Erie County border. On the west side of our district, we’ve got a small water district that’s fed by Erie County.”

By 8:15 a.m., the fire had been knocked down and under control. Firefighters started doing extensive overhaul, opening up walls and ceilings to check for hot spots, the fire chief said.

Responding to the scene, in addition to Alabama, were the Pembroke, Indian Falls, Oakfield, Corfu, East Pembroke, Darien, city of Batavia, Shelby (Orleans County), Wolcottsville (Niagara County) and Newstead (Erie County) fire departments. The Mercy EMS ambulance was there, as was Genesee County Office of Emergency Management Deputy Fire Coordinator Brian Schollard. There was a four-county response, based on the location of the fire, Patnode said.

There was no sign of foul play and no further fire investigation, he said.

Patnode said the Tonawanda Band of Seneca has already put a message out in its community for donations to help the fire victims, collecting donations of clothing and other items through the tribal office and also through its community building. Some have reached out to the Alabama Fire Department, which put them in touch with people who could help, Patnode said. The children on the reservation attend the Akron Central School District, he said.

Firefighters were back in service at 9:22 a.m.

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