Update-Fire In North Tonawanda-Residents Slowly Recovering

March 14, 2011 Updated Mar 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM EDT

By WKBW Programming

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Update-Fire In North Tonawanda-Residents Slowly Recovering

March 14, 2011 Updated Mar 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM EDT

NORTH TONAWANDA ( WKBW )

Firefighters tell Eyewitness News a blaze started on the bottom floor of a home on Thompson Street in North Tonawanda earlier this month.

Terry Schlifke was just released from E.C.M.C. after treatment for burns. Amber Okon is still recovering at the hospital. Their newborn baby, Gracie, was fortunately not at home at the time of the fire.

They were rushed to the hospital with severe burns and smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but officials say it started in the kitchen. Family members of the injured couple say it was a faulty stove that set the fire.

After a generous outpouring of support, the family has set up a fund to help the couple and their child who lost everything in the fire.

People interested can go to any Citizens bank branch and make a donation to the Schlifke/Okon Family Fire Fund in c/o Amy Haller. The fund was opened under her name but all donations with go directly to Terry, Amber & Gracie. The family appreciates any help you can give them. If there is any problem just ask for a manager. Thank you again for your support!

The man who lived in the upper apartment was at work, but neighbors say he did have a number of cats that did not survive.

Officials say the fire spread quickly, and when they arrived, the smoke was thick and the flames were high.

Firefighters said they had to take a defensive approach , meaning the could not get into the building right away, but instead had to fight the blaze from outside until they got it under control.

By the time they entered the building, the fire had spread to the second floor and the attic space. Neighbors also say that the smoke was so bad they could not even see across the street.

Fire officials say the building structure is safe, but they also say the inside is a complete loss and the house may be demolished in the next couple of days.

Eyewitness News will continue to follow this story.