The second oldest Conti child is coming to the defense of her father, Joseph Conti. 18-year-old Amber Conti tells 7 Eyewitness News her father used a torch early Monday morning to light a cigarette, and that’s what started the house fire. "I'm pretty sure it was still hot and he went to the bathroom, came back and the bed was on fire," she said.
“If you’re asking if there’s any reason to believe there’s foul play, the answer is no,” Amber said. “It just was an accident. I know for sure he would not…he’s hurting so much, and I hate the things people are saying about him,” Amber added.
Conti’s younger brother, seven-year-old Anthonydied in that fire. "He was just so sweet. He had such a good heart and if you wanted something he had, he'd give it to you in a heartbeat. He was so selfless. He loved so, so hard," Amber said.
The three-alarm fireat 59 Benzinger Street in the city's Lovejoy neighborhood burned for more than two hours before firefighters brought it under control. Amber was one of five children to make it out of the home safely.
7 Eyewitness News has learned there was an order of protection placed against Joseph Conti, which would have forbidden him from being at the home. UPDATE: a Buffalo Police spokesman said Conti is cooperating with investigators. So far, he has not been charged.
7 Eyewitness News reporters were in Buffalo City Court Tuesday morning when Conti was expected to appear for a Harassment charge. According to court paperwork, that charge stems from an incident on New Year’s Eve when Joseph Conti allegedly spit on a woman. It’s unclear whether that charge and the possible order of protection are related at this time.
Meanwhile, Amber is grateful for the support of the entire community. "It's really sweet to see how much people care."
Calling hours for Anthony are scheduled for Friday, February 2 from 4 to 8 P.M. at the Michael A. DiVincenzo Funeral Home, 1122 East Lovejoy Street.