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Victims of fire on East Utica Street in Buffalo identified

Mother, father, and young baby girl lose their lives in an early-morning fire
Posted at 2:39 AM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 10:41:25-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The two adults and one child who were killed in an early morning fire on East Utica Street in Buffalo on Friday have been identified by the mother of one of the victims.

Anthony Gouchie, 25, and Emma Johnson, 28, were killed in the fire along with a one-year-old girl named Amira.

The fire started sometime around 2 a.m. at 57 East Utica Street, which is between Main Street and Michigan Avenue. The flames were very intense when our photographer was at the scene.

Fire officials believe the fire started in a car outside of the three-unit home then spread to the house. They say it was difficult to fight because there were so many walls built inside the home. The three victims were the only ones inside the burning, multi-unit structure, explained Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo.

"This is a real tragedy," said Renaldo.

Ruthie Gouchie, whose son, Anthony, died in the blaze, told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that her son worked at Home Depot and had future plans to marry his girlfriend, Emma Johnson.

The heartbroken mom said her son had a good sense of humor and was planning on celebrating Amira's 2nd birthday this Sunday, September 27. Anthony's girlfriend, Emma, was taking online college courses to get her degree, added Gouchie.

The young couple had moved to East Utica Street after a fire at their previous residence, said the mother.

Family of the victims is wondering why a burning car was so close to the house and how did it start on fire?

"He never had problems with his car. So, I just don't know," said Ruthie Gouchie.

Friends and family members are planning to hold a vigil for the three fire victims on Friday evening September 25 at 7 p.m. They also plan to start a GoFundMe account to raise money for the funerals.

You can view the GoFundMe page by clicking here.

The intensity of the fire resulted in the Buffalo Fire Department calling two alarms. Crews attempted multiple times to find the victims, but intense flames and deteriorating interior structures made those searches difficult and dangerous.

Commissioner Renaldo said the victims were eventually located in a rear, upper sleeping area.

While investigators think the car fire may have caused the house fire, the official cause of the triple-fatal fire remains under investigation.