At 15:30 Hours on 3-25-03, Buffalo Fire Dispatch sent out an Alarm of Fire for the area of William St. and Fillmore Ave for a reported fire in a vacant building. As Engines 3, 32, and 22 Trucks 11, 5 and 15, Rescue 1, Acting Third Battalion Chief Mike Lombardo and Division Chief Donald McFeely were dispatched, numerous phone calls flooded dispatchers. Truck 11 was leaving a first aid call just blocks away and arrived to find a vacant two story brick building approximately 50 feet x 75 feet with a 1 story metal 75 feet x 100 feet attachment at the rear of 901 William St. with heavy fire showing. As a size up was given, the crew split up with members forcing a security gate for entry on the #4 side and others positioning their 75' tower for operation.
Engine 22 arrived and stretched two 2-1/2" lines to begin an attack on the fire on the #4 side. Engine 3 arrived and established a water supply and stretched 2-1/2" lines to feed Truck 11.Truck 15 came in on the #2 side and set up their 75' aerial for operation on the 1/2 side. Engine 32 established a 5" feed for Truck 15.Truck 5 also positioned on the 4 side for possible operations. While arriving, Acting Third Battalion Chief Lombardo transmitted a second alarm. At 15:34, Engines 35, 1, and 33, Trucks 2 and 6 (both 100' towers) and The Safety Battalion (B-41) Chief Patrick Britzzalaro were dispatched. Fire dispatch then notified companies that the building was a target hazard and was unstable for interior operations. Division Chief Mc Feely arrived and assumed command. Truck 2 arrived and set up their tower on side 1 and was fed by Engine 1 with a 5" line.
The building was now heavily involved with fire through the roof. The only exposure was a gas station about 100' away on the 4 side. Additional 2-1/2" handlines were stretched to the front of the building and to the #4 side. An additional 2 engines and truck were requested by DC McFeely. Engines 28 and 21 and Truck 10 along with the 6th Battalion Chief were dispatched. Engine 21 laid additional 2-1/2" lines to the rear of the #4 side as crews began to peel back the corrugated metal walls to expose the fire. Engine 35 laid in another 2-1/2 on the 4 side in an effort to darken down the fire as Truck 11 worked their bucket above.
At the height of the fire, two tower ladders, one ladder pipe and about 10 2-1/2" handlines were operating. The fire was placed under control at 16:51 hours and many crews were relieved at the scene by the night shift. Trucks 11 and 2 worked their towers to overhaul the hotspots into the early evening with Truck 11 finishing up the job after repositioning to the front of the building.
The cause of the blaze is suspected as arson. The fire caused $55,000 damage to the fire building and an emergency demolition was ordered.