On August 24, 2009, the Buffalo Fire Department received notice of a fire that was set off by a fire alarm. Civilians were reportedly trapped in the fire. The Buffalo Fire Department dispatched firefighters shortly thereafter. When firefighters arrived at the mixed commercial/residence structure, firefighters failed to locate the entrance to the basement. The fire was reportedly located in the basement.
Instead, the crew entered through a door on Side 2, which provided access to a set of stairs that led to the basement. The door to the basement was made out of steel and contained dead-bolted locks on both sides of the door. The crew swept through the first and second floors and found no civilians.
Thirty minutes after the firefighters arrived, they were ordered to exit the building. At that point, the crew still was not able to access the basement from the door on Side 2 so more people were called in to assist with opening the basement door. Two firefighters, including 45-year-old Lieutenant Charles McCarthy, entered through the door on Side 1 to check that the crew safely exited the structure. Lieutenant McCarthy was ahead of the “two firefighters when the 1st floor partially collapsed beneath him.”
34-year-old Firefighter Jonathan Croom then grabbed a tool and entered the structure. The crew outside of the building reported hearing a floor collapse. Lieutenant “McCarthy was immediately identified as missing during the first accountability check, but [firefighter] Croom was not accounted for as missing until the third accountability check, more than 50 minutes after” Lieutenant McCarthy was reported missing. Afterwards, both were found next to one another in the basement. The article can be found here:
Following the fire, firefighter Croom’s two sons filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Croom’s mother asserts that there was no accountability regarding the cause of the fire from the August 2009 incident. She also indicates that Croom was missing for almost two hours before anyone knew where he was.