ABLAZE — Pictured is the Emerald Green apartment complex that caught on fire Aug. 26. Photos by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — Town of Hamburg Police personnel responded to a report of a shrub fire in the Emerald Green Apartments garden on Rogers Road at 1:55 p.m. on Aug. 26. When police arrived, the fire had spread into the structure.
The two-story, eight-unit building is owned by David Burke.
Officer William Stowell obtained two depositions from witnesses, who said that the fire began outside the building and was extended into the structure when the wind picked up. The siding ignited and then the blaze spread to the eaves.
“All eight units in the structure were deemed uninhabitable by town of Hamburg Building Inspector Joe Boncore, due to the utilities’ being shut off for the entire building,” Stowell reported.
A deposition was obtained from Timothy Vanhatten, 53, who was dog sitting for his son. Vanhatten told police that he had gone outside to smoke at 10:30 a.m., but said that he, “with the utmost certainty ... thoroughly extinguished the cigarette, prior to discarding the butt on the ground.”
Vanhatten said that, when he and his wife left the premises at 12:30 p.m., they did not smell smoke or see fire.
Police said that Vanhatten’s 2005 Chevrolet Silverado sustained heavy fire damage. In addition, the family dog died.
A LOST CAUSE — The 2005 Chevrolet Silverado that was destroyed by the Emerald Green Apartments fire can be seen, bottom right.
Stowell said that the fire was not suspicious in nature and will be listed as unpremeditated. “All accidental and environmental causes were eliminated, except the careless discarding of smoking materials, and spontaneous combustion of the mulch in the garden area,” police said.
Burke specified that the total value of the building is $1.4 million. There is insurance on the property.
Stowell said that three or four units had sustained smoke, fire and/or water damage.
Hamburg Fire Department Chief Tim Moses said that he saw heavy fire on the east side of the structure. Lakeshore Fire Department Chief Matt Giacomini that, when he took over incident command, the structure was “fully involved.”
Witness Sandy Baily said that she saw a shrub in the landscape along the walkway ablaze. She added that, at that point, the building and pickup truck were not burning.
Witness Scott Miller said that he saw the shrub burning, but could not locate a hose to extinguish the flames. He said that a breeze picked up the fire and caused it to spread to the structure.