Parents Both Asleep, Small Children Notice House in Flames

November 5, 2010 Updated Nov 5, 2010 at 11:30 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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November 5, 2010 Updated Nov 5, 2010 at 11:30 PM EDT

WKBW
Buffalo, NY

The fire was fast and furious, ravaging a duplex at 264 West Delavan Avenue near Grant Street in Buffalo. Two firefighters working on the roof were inches away from blaze. They were sent scrambling away by the flames which began charring one fireman's ladder. He then made a daring leap to an adjacent ladder and both men retreated to safety. Moments later the entire roof collapsed under the flames, crashing to the ground.

The Rodriguez family lived in one of the apartments in the duplex, the other apartment was vacant. They were in the home when the fire struck. Both parents were asleep and it was their two children that frantically woke them up telling them they saw flames.

"He (her husband) woke up then he woke me up, we were sleeping, we noticed the fire, we came out of the house with the kids then we see the UPS guy. He helped us, he took us in the UPS truck," said Johanna Rodriguez, the mother of the children who lived in the home that caught fire.

That UPS truck driver was making a delivery two houses down. He and other good samaritan, including Robert Jackson, helped the family to safety.

"I saw smoke come out and I saw a lady come out so I told her come on out and I called the fire department...I ran to the store, I called the fire department and we waited and put the people in a UPS truck," said Jackson.

"We needed a second alarm to quell this. Initially we went in on a attack on the main structure but the conditions got so bad that we had to back out the crews and we used a tower ladder to knock the rest of the fire down," explained Division Chief Don McFeely of the Buffalo Fire.

The owner of the property, John Balconi Sr., owns at least six properties on the block. He was too emotional to talk to us, but his son spoke on his behalf.

"My mother and father have owned these properties for 25...30 years, since they came to this country and it's very sad," said John Balconi Jr.

The house next door was also severely damaged. After the fire the family got changed into warm clothes and were treated to pizza at a church around the corner. They are staying at a motel for the next few days with help from the Red Cross. The investigation into what started the fire continues.