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Residents safely flee burning two-family home in Lancaster

Sammi Wik woke up Friday morning to find her Lancaster apartment full of smoke.

She screamed for her mom, Jackie, hoping she was cooking a smoky breakfast in the kitchen.

But when the 21-year-old woman she got up, she saw flames in her mother’s room. Her mother already had left for work.

Wik’s apartment on Genesee Street near Harris Hill was severely damaged by flames this morning. The adjoining apartment, where four adults, one baby and one cat live, sustained heat damage.

Everybody got out safely and nobody was injured. Lancaster police are investigating the cause of the fire.

Wik says she has no idea what could have caused a fire in her mother’s room.

“I was just confused,” said Wik, as she stood outside her apartment. “I was scared I was going to lose all my stuff.”

Wik grabbed her phone, record player, computer, camera and some clothes, but those belongings may have smoke damage.

For the time being, Wik is going to stay with her father, who lives nearby.

When Bowmansville firefighters arrived at around 7:45 a.m., flames were coming out of the back and side windows of Wik’s apartment and spread to the roof and attic, according to assistant chief Tom Trzepacz. About 30 to 40 volunteer firefighters responded, and it took about 20 minutes to put out the fire. Firefighters were able to contain the fire inside Wik’s mother’s room.

“There was a good chance it could have spread throughout the whole building,” Trzepacz said. “It was a great effort by everyone who contained the fire.”

The apartments are separated by one door.

Before Wik ran outside, she pounded on the door to alert her neighbors – Marc Romesburg, his girlfriend, Heather Rodriguez, their 7-month-old son, and roommates Kayleigh Rokitka and Anthony Hirsch.

“I woke up, and there was smoke all in my ceiling and everywhere,” said 21-year-old Romesburg. “I couldn’t see. I grabbed my baby and ran outside.”

Rodriguez had already left for work.

Romesburg was angry because smoke detectors were not installed.

“If it wasn’t for our neighbor knocking on our door, we could’ve been dead,” he said.

Firefighters shattered the window in Romesburg’s bedroom to clear the smoke, and the wall above the baby’s crib sustained heat damage. Though flames never entered Romesburg’s apartment, there is heat and smoke damage on the walls and ceilings throughout.

Romesburg said his son has had breathing problems since he was born and was being checked at Lancaster-Depew Pediatrics down the road.

Romesburg packed up his truck with belongings Friday morning, though he says he will have to throw out many because of smoke damage.

He, Rodriguez and their son will stay in Cheektowaga at his mother’s house.

Rokitka also expressed aggravation.

“I’m relieved that my stuff is OK, but I don’t have a place to live, so I’m not that relieved,” she said.