(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — A 63-year-old man is facing arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief charges after Buffalo Police say he set a home on fire early this morning.
Police arrested Roger Cornell of Olean, N.Y. late Saturday night. Investigators say Cornell used a flammable device to start the fire.
The fire broke out inside a 10-apartment building at 435 Bailey Avenue around 5:10 Saturday morning.
18 people were displaced by the fire and are being assisted by the Red Cross.
Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield tells News 4, 16 adults and two children all made it out of the building safely and no one was injured.
He says fire crews still carried out search efforts when they arrived on the scene because at that time they did not know if everyone was accounted for.
Whitfield says the families are lucky to have all made it out in time.
“So the people in the front of the building were able to get out safely. It’s just a blessing that nobody was injured here. That time of morning, middle of the night or early morning to be able to self evacuate is really a blessing,” said Whitfield.
The front of the building had to be torn down due to the extensive damage from the fire. Damages to the structure are $200,000 and $75,000 to the contents.
Fire marshals Edwin Ortiz and Will Tyler helped lead the investigation. Buffalo police, State police and the ATF assisted in the investigation.
Panorama talked to one of the victims from the fire, Miriam Martinez. Martinez says it was a traumatic scene.
“It all happened so fast, a lot of commotion, screaming, running, kids from 3 years-old to 6 years-old with no clothes and no shoes, mothers screaming, owner of the place crying, it was chaotic,” said Martinez.
This is the third time Martinez was displaced from her home due to a fire. She credits a working fire alarm for saving her and her son’s life.
“That basically saved us, it gave us time to run and grab our dogs. We really don’t know where we’re going to be or what’s going to happen from tomorrow on, we just go one day at a time,” said Martinez.
Martinez says she’s thankful for all the support from the community and confirms Buffalo is the city of good neighbors.