NIAGARA FALLS, NY
Neighbors tell us eight-year-old Patrick lived next door to the abandoned house on 19th street in Niagara Falls where the fire started around 4 p.m. Friday. Patrick allegedly went into the vacant building with his brother Salvadore and his cousin Simon.
"There's a side window on the side of the house and we told them not to be going in that," said Frank Nowak, Patrick's cousin.
Nowak lived with Patrick and is Simon's brother. He tells us they were in the process of moving today. Their mother ran out of gas and used a gas can to fill-up. They then put the left over gas near the trash on the side of the house. Frank says the boys took the gas next door to the abandoned house and somehow started the blaze. The two boys got out but patrick was trapped inside. The boys frantically called Frank for help.
"I rushed downstairs. I tried to pull the thing out from the building to try to get him but by the time the thing was pulled out, the house was in flames," said Nowak.
Frank says by the time they knocked down the wall it was too late.
"The crews that arrived to put out the fire found that there was a young boy inside the fire and he was fatally injured," said Daniel Boland, Batallian Chief of the Niagara Falls Police Department.
"I think it is a horrible tragedy anytime we have a death in a fire but when it is a child I think it is doubly tragic," commented Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls.
Dyster was just a few blocks away at the time of the fire and rushed to the scene. Many neighbors complaining about the amount of abandoned buildings in the city and want something done about it.
"They should tear them all down so that this will never happen again," said Jamie Beckwith, a nearby neighbor.
Mayor Dyster told Eyewitness News the city recently started a new land lord registration system where out-of-town property owners of vacant buildings or rental properties must hire local property managers. The city is currently in the process of reviewing that database for this case. The investigation into the fire is still in progress.BW )