A man rescued from a burning house in Alden was in critical condition Sunday night in the burn unit of Erie County Medical Center. Firefighters and Erie County sheriff’s investigators, meanwhile, were trying to understand why the man was in the home, which was vacant.
“It’s very puzzling to everybody,” said Alan Piasecki, fire chief for the Crittenden Volunteer Fire Company.
Sheriff’s deputies declined to release the victim’s name.
Neighbors called 911 at about 9:30 a. m. to report smoke and flames coming from 12793 Uebelhoer Road.
Neighbors also told dispatchers they heard a person coughing inside the house, which had been damaged extensively in a previous fire Nov. 27.
Assistant Fire Chiefs Robert Rimbeck and Steven Chase of the Alden Fire Company entered the burning house and located the man, who was rescued, treated at the scene and then taken by Rural/ Metro ambulance to ECMC.
An alert neighbor noticed a man walking around the house before he entered through a window, according to authorities.
A short time later, the neighbor saw smoke coming from the building and called 911.
The man found inside the house had no relationship to the owner of the residence, investigators said.
“It’s very suspicious and no one knows, including the homeowner why [the victim] did what he did and why he was there,” Piasecki said.
The cause of the November fire at the house was undetermined, but it was not considered suspicious, and the homeowner planned to rebuild, Piasecki added.
The strange circumstances echoed a tragic arson on the same road in 2009, when Andrew Sindrewicz, of 12763 Uebelhoer, died after setting fire to his house and a neighboring home at 12773 Uebelhoer.
Authorities said at the time that Sindrewicz committed suicide by staying in the basement of one of the burning homes.
Sindrewicz had been involved in an ongoing dispute with his sister over the property, which was jointly inherited from their mother. He was served with court papers shortly before leaving an apparent suicide note, setting the fires and killing himself.