Niagara Gazette

April 22, 2013

Cause of fatal NT fire undetermined

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette —

An investigation into a Third Avenue blaze in North Tonawanda that a killed two residents on April 8 was released Monday, though the cause remains undetermined.

Fire Chief John Lapham said the fire in the rented house appears to have started in the living room, while investigators have narrowed the likely cause of the it down to an electrical short or the "numerous amounts of smoking materials" discovered after the fire was extinguished. At least one of the residents was thought to be a smoker. 

"We can't nail it down to either," he said. "It could be one of the two, it could be something we couldn't find because of the damage. But odds are it was one of two items."

The home, at 53 Third Ave., was also found to have four smoke detectors, which followed city's building codes, though none of them had working batteries, which Lapham said would have been the resident's responsibility. 

Dorothy Burns, 83, was found unconscious in a bedroom at 11 p.m.. and died a short while later after first responders attempted to revive her. Her daughter, Video evidence obtained from a home security system nearby also corroborated the department's original findings. The fire was first reported at 10:49 p.m. by a resident of Third Avenue who was returning home. Police unites arrived three minuted later and fire officials were on the scene within five minutes.