Fort Erie firefighters thought they were responding to a tree fire at 4 a.m. Saturday, but when the small crew arrived at the location on Edgemere Lane, they found a two-story home fully engulfed by the blaze. Fire Chief Larry Coplen said it is being investigated as suspicious.
The house had been vacant for years, Coplen said, and it had no electric or gas service. Even so, he said it appeared to be secure – firefighters had to force their way in – and there was no immediate evidence that vagrants had been using the property, which was hidden behind trees and brush near the lakefront.
The fire was called in by a neighbor. There were no injuries among the 46 responders and they had the fire “knocked down” by about 6 a.m. People familiar with the house said it could have been abandoned for as long as 20 years. Coplen said records showed its last owners lived in Buffalo, but authorities had not yet been able to reach them.