House fire kills one
First responders encountered thick black smoke, extreme heat; cause ruled accidental
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.
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.