House fire kills one

First re­spon­ders en­coun­tered thick black smoke, ex­treme heat; cause ruled ac­ci­den­tal

The Hamburg Area Item - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ham­bur­gitem on Twit­ter

A State Po­lice fire mar­shal ruled a fa­tal fire in Ham­burg as ac­ci­den­tal.

The vic­tim was iden­ti­fied as Robert Deib­ert, 71, who lived in the 600 block of Wind­sor Street. Au­thor­i­ties said a cat also per­ished in the fire.

Ham­burg Bor­ough Po­lice Chief An­thony Kuk­lin­ski re­ports that just af­ter 7 a.m. on March 23, the Ham­burg Bor­ough Po­lice Depart­ment along with Union Fire Com­pany of Ham­burg were dis­patched to a call for smoke com­ing from a res­i­dence at 7th and Wind­sor streets in Ham­burg.

Ham­burg Area High School Prin­ci­pal Christo­pher Spohn was com­ing to work at about 20 min­utes be­fore 7 a.m. and smelled smoke.

“I turned on 7th Street just to see what was go­ing on and I saw there was smoke com­ing from all over the roof to in­clude un­der­neath the shin­gles and the gut­ters and di­aled 911,” said Spohn.

While po­lice and fire crews were on their way, Spohn banged on the door to see if any­body was home.

“The back door was open but by then I got hit with a wall of smoke. I couldn’t get near,” said Spohn.

That was when he saw flames com­ing out from un­der­neath the porch from the base­ment. Spohn watched as po­lice of­fi­cers at­tempted to gain en­trance into the home, break­ing win­dows, but said they too were over­come by smoke.

Kuk­lin­ski said Ham­burg Po­lice of­fi­cers were first on scene

of­fi­cers were first on scene and found the res­i­dence fully in­volved with fire.

“Of­fi­cers de­ter­mined that there were pos­si­ble

oc­cu­pants in the res­i­dence. Of­fi­cers breached the rear door of the res­i­dence to at­tempt to en­ter, how­ever the of­fi­cers were met by a “wall of smoke,” said Kuk­lin­ski. “Of­fi­cers then at­tempted to en­ter the res­i­dence through a bed­room win­dow and were turned

back by thick black smoke and ex­treme heat.”

Union Fire Depart­ment ar­rived on scene and were ad­vised of the find­ings of the first re­spond­ing of­fi­cers. Fire­fight­ers en­tered the home with breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus and re­cov­ered the res­i­dent who was

treated at the scene by Ham­burg Am­bu­lance, ac­cord­ing to Kuk­lin­ski.

The coroner was scene and de­clared Deib­ert de­ceased near the site of the fire.

“Fire per­son­nel quickly con­tained the struc­ture fire. Union Fire Com­pany

was as­sisted on scene by fire de­part­ments from sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties and Fire Po­lice per­son­nel were dis­patched to as­sist with traf­fic con­trol,” said Kuk­lin­ski.

The res­i­dence is within close prox­im­ity to the Ham­burg High School cam­pus.

School traf­fic was de­toured as a re­sult of the fire.

“At no time was the safety and well be­ing of the stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff an is­sue,” said Kuk­lin­ski.

Trooper Janssen Herb, a state po­lice fire mar­shal, was sum­moned to as­sist with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — DAVID REIMER SR.

Union Fire Com­pany of Ham­burg re­sponded to a house fire at 7th and Wind­sor streets in Ham­burg on March 23. Fire de­part­ments from sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties and Fire Po­lice as­sisted on scene.

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