BY BILL WOLCOTT
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — City police rescued four people, including two small children, from a fire at a West Avenue apartment early Thursday morning.
No injuries were reported and the Red Cross is assisting the two families, described as two young moms and two young children. Damage was estimated at $85,000, according to Assistant Fire Chief Matt Streckewald.
Lt. David Barrancotta and officers Tricia Denny, Kevin Lucinski, Steve Tarnowski and William Jones worked together in clearing the apartment and neighboring houses, according to the police report.
"Everyone was acting instinctively and doing their job," said Barrancotta. "All five of us doing our job and got everyone out safe. The firemen got there quick and saved the house next door."
Barrancotta and Denny, who were in separate cars, were near the police headquarters when there was a report of a fire at 1:05 a.m. at 114 West Ave. "When we got around corner on West Avenue, you couldn't see where you were going. The smoke was thick as I've ever seen," the veteran lieutenant said.
The house was engulfed in flames, with flames shooting out the back. Barrancotta and Denny went to the house and began knocking on doors and windows to get the attention of the people inside. Lucinski, Tarnowski and Jones arrived to assist.
Denny noticed a light on the inside of the house went to the front door with Barrancotta. They banged and yelled for someone to answer the door. A resident of the lower apartment came to the door and she was was told to leave the building. The mother ran back to the bedroom and carried her toddler to safety.
"At the same time the woman who was upstairs came to her door," Barrancotta said. "They didn't realize there was a fire."
The officers helped the woman and little girl out of the house and Barrancotta returned to the apartment to rescue a cat.
Why? "That's a good question," Barrancotta said. "They were crying they wanted their cats."
Due to the smoke, police were unable to find two other cats that were reported in the building.
A next door neighbor was told to evacuate her home as the flames were melting the siding. The westerly wind kept the flames away and may have saved the neighbor's house, according to Barrancotta.
The house was fully engulfed when the firefighters arrived. Nine responded to the fire and 12 more were called in, according to Streckewald. Firefighters left the scene at 8:20 a.m.
An investigation into the cause of t