Niagara Falls Police and Fire Department investigators are looking for the cause of a blaze that destroyed three structures in the 1800 block of Niagara Street overnight.
The fire, described as a "roaring inferno" also took the life of a still unidentified adult male victim.
Fire officials said the first call came in around 11:45 p.m. Monday and when firefighters arrived, they found a two and a half story woodframe home "fully engulfed in flames." Neighbors told firefighters that there was a person living on the second floor of the home.
"The flames were so intense, we couldn't get into the home to check," Falls Fire Chief Joe Pedulla said.
The fire chief said crews were on the scene of the blaze within 90 seconds of the call coming in to dispatchers. He said the spread of the fire and the speed with which it spread made the blaze tough to battle.
As firefighters tried to control the flames, the fire spread to two nearby structures. Another two and a half story woodframe dwelling and a commercial building, with upstairs apartments, also began burning.
Pedulla said it took firefighters over an hour to gain control of the flames. By 3 a.m. Tuesday, firefighters were finally able to enter the home at 1815 Niagara St., were the fire first erupted.
"By the time we were able to get inside, the roof had collapsed (into the home)," Pedulla said. "We moved as much (debris) as we could by hand."
But it wasn't until demolition contractors arrived on the scene, and were able to remove "heavy roof debris", that firefighters made the grim discovery of human remains.
"The body was found at the rear of the second floor," Pedulla said. "We know the person lived on the second floor, and stayed up front. The fire may have driven him to the back and he was trying to get out the back of the house."
By late Tuesday afternoon, both police and fire investigators said the body had not been positively identified.
Witnesses told investigators that illegal fireworks may have sparked the blaze. Neighbors, commenting on social media, repeated those claims.
On June 19, another nearby commercial building was set on fire by the careless use of fireworks. That fire caused relatively minor damage.
"We're looking the cause, but we don't the cause yet," Pedulla said. "We not ruling out anything."
All three fire damaged structures were demolished on Tuesday. Pedulla said a dog was rescued from one of the structures.