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Still In Service

BUFFALO, NY - Local morticians are lending a helping hand to one of their own whose funeral home was lost in a devastating east side blaze.

On New Year's Day, a fire broke out at the United Memorial & Moss Funeral Home on Bailey Avenue which pretty much destroyed the interior of the brick building.

In the days since, the funeral home's President Rinaldo Moss, has continued to make arrangements ...but of a different sort than he's used to.

"I've been busy reaching out to other funeral homes and other funeral directors and they have opened their doors up to Untied Memorial," Moss told WGRZ-TV.

In this manner, Moss will be able to continue to serve his clientele in other funeral homes who he says have been gracious enough to offer their facilities for him to continue to conduct business.

"We're still here to service the community with the same quality that we've been servicing the community with," Moss said.

Just two months before the fire, Moss, 31, had finally realized his goal of operating his own funeral home...only to spend the first day of what he expected to be an exciting new year watching it burn.

"I was in shock. At first I thought the fire department would be able to put it out quickly because they have a firehouse right across the street. But when they opened up the windows to put out the fire I guess the oxygen mixed with the flames and caused a back draft throughout the whole building," Moss said.

Moss, who stood in a steady snowfall looking up at the caved in roof of the structure Thursday night, recalled that witnessing the fire rip through the structure was "a hard pill to swallow", ...but that he needed to stay calm in order to assist firefighters by reporting to them where flammable chemicals, including formaldehyde, were kept in the building in order to prevent an explosion.

"I just had to keep my composure," Moss told 2 On Your Side.

Keeping his composure under fire is something Moss might have more experience with than the average funeral director....having served as a U.S Army mortician in Iraq.

"I guess it came second nature," Moss said.

Moss leases the building so the insurance on it will be paid to the owner. He plans to run his own funeral home again but doesn't know if it will be at the same location or not.

Moss tells WGRZ-TV that fire investigators have informed him the cause of the blaze was accidental, and likely linked to an electrical failure in the basement of the building.

Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalists Andy Golembiowski and Ben Read.


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