Neighbors rescued a 5-year-old boy from a house fire on Buffalo’s East Side that claimed the life of his father at about 6 p.m. Thursday.
Tony Miles, 56, was pronounced dead in Erie County Medical Center shortly after a Buffalo Fire Rescue crew pulled him out of the smoky blaze that heavily damaged his second-floor flat at 18 Regina Place, off Humboldt Parkway near East Delavan Avenue.
Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. praised two neighbors – Lewis Varner Jr. and his son, Dwayne – as heroes, but they said they were just trying to help their neighbors.
The Varners said that when they ran over to the burning house, they saw the boy standing inside a second-floor window.
Lewis Varner said that he told the boy to jump and that he would catch him, but that the boy said he was afraid. The Varners immediately got their large ladder, and the elder Varner climbed to the window, knocked out the screen and pulled the boy out. The Varners said Miles’ wife, the mother of the boy, was not home at the time, but by 7 p.m., she was with her son in the Varner home.
Whitfield came to Regina Place and personally congratulated the two Varners, telling them that they had done a “good job” and would be considered heroes.
Lewis Varner responded that he was not a hero – saying, “That’s my next-door neighbor” – and that he felt he had to do what he could to help his longtime friend.
A number of Regina Place residents who asked to speak without being identified described Miles as a “good father” who lovingly cared for his young son while his wife worked.
Fire officials confirmed that the fire began on the second floor and spread to the attic before it was under control by about 6:45 p.m.
Damage to the house was listed at $125,000, with $75,000 to the building and $50,000 to the contents. Damage to the adjacent house at 20 Regina was estimated at $5,000. The cause of the fire was under investigation.