A vacant home in the 100 block of Moselle Street had been a nuisance for several years, residents of the East Side neighborhood said.
Rats from the abandoned structure migrated to nearby homes; children up to no good frequented its porch.
But on Thursday afternoon, the boarded-up home at 126 Moselle dealt neighbors the biggest of blows.
A two-alarm fire that originated in the house between Genesee Street and Walden Avenue spread to houses on either side – destroying one and extensively damaging the other.
No one was injured in the blaze, deemed suspicious by Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. Damage to the three homes was estimated at $220,000, and five adults and six children were displaced.
Crystal Robinson, a 32-year-old mother of five who rents the destroyed home at 122 Moselle, said the fire shouldn’t have even happened.
“The owner of the property has been calling City Hall for like over a year now about that house,” she said. “We’ve been trying to get rid of that house, because not only is it an eyesore but it’s just there for no reason, and people are going in and out of that house doing God knows what.
“We were just hoping that it would have been torn down a lot sooner. I’m thinking that if that would’ve happened that me and my kids would be in a house today.”
The fire, reported at 2:25 p.m., quickly spread to the 2½-story homes at 122 and 130 Moselle.
Kia Pearson, who lives a few houses down, said flames shot from the roof of the vacant home, which had caught fire several times before.
Smoke from the blaze was visible from downtown Buffalo and even Canada.
“It was pretty bad,” said Adam Cichocki, who dashed over to the fire from his family’s butcher shop, Camellia Meats, on Genesee Street, when he saw the smoke. “ The smoke cloud was pretty high in the sky.”
The second alarm was called shortly after firefighters arrived on scene. At least 50 firefighters worked to put out the blaze over two hours.
Easley’s boyfriend, Jquawn Buchanan, 17, was sitting on the porch when he saw the fire ignite next door and begin to spread to the second floor.
He quickly alerted his girlfriend and her 11-year-old brother and 7-year-old sister, who were sleeping upstairs. All were able to leave on their own.
“If it wasn’t for him, we would have never knew that the house was burnt down,” Easley said, referring to her boyfriend. “When I came out, all I just seen was flames everywhere.”
Easley then called her mother, who was on her way to work. Robinson’s 17-year-old daughter and a 9-month-old son weren’t home.
After choking back tears, she collected her emotions.
“We got what matters the most,” said Robinson, whose family was receiving assistance from the American Red Cross. “Everything is replaceable except our lives. It’s a little stinger, but it’s all replaceable. We’re blessed today. I won’t even complain.”