House Fire in First Ward Kills Dog

July 12, 2011 Updated Jul 12, 2011 at 5:32 PM EDT

By Allen Leight

July 12, 2011 Updated Jul 12, 2011 at 5:32 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Fire crews had to battle the intense heat of a house fire on Louisiana Street Tuesday, as well as the hot temperatures of day.

Homeowner Edward Zawistowski told Eyewitness News that he was cooking french fries on his stove Tuesday afternoon, when some grease spilled over onto the stove, igniting a fire.

That fire quickly spread to the kitchen ceiling, and then through the entire first floor.

Zawistowski described the scene saying, "The ceiling started on fire and I started backing up. I got me and my other dog to back up and go out the front door and I ran back in to get my other dog, and the smoke was so intense I could breathe. She passed away upstairs, and here I am. I'm alive."

Fire officials say the breeze of the lake helped to fuel the fire as it spread through the first floor of the single-family home.

"The first floor was...just tough for us to make entry because there was just a huge body of fire, from the front which was blowing out and then the rear completely lit up," said Buffalo Fire Division Chief Jack Hess.

Zawistowski said the fire spread so quickly that he barely had time to react.

"I have great respect for fire and great respect for firemen. Minutes. Minutes, that fire drove me right out of my house. Killed my dog," said Zawistowski as he fought-back tears.

Fire crews did recover the second dog from the second floor of the home. A black lab named Maggie, who Zawistowski called his "baby".

The Red Cross has reached out to help Zawistowski while he is displaced.

The neighborhood has also been extremely helpful, doing all they can to support one of their first ward residents. One man walked up to Zawistowski, handing him a $100 bill and giving him a big hug. Others searched for clothing and shoes that would fit him as he had to flee the burning home in bare feet.

Fire officials estimate the damage to the house itself at about $75,000, plus an undetermined value for the contents of the home.