‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ Fundraiser


TheBatavian - "Cathy Hale-Martino planned on a relaxing day Sunday Jan. 7, spending the day at home and watching the Bills-Jaguars playoff game.

The day did not begin as planned.

“We woke up to them fighting upstairs,” she said. “We heard things smashing like he was throwing her around. I called the police and then my landlord.”

Minutes later police were at her door, guns drawn, with more police arriving and surrounded her apartment house at 207 Washington Ave.

The day got progressively worse from there.

The police ordered Hale-Martino and her two children to leave the apartment immediately. She drove to Dunkin Donuts to wait it out.

“I figured they would arrest him and I’d be able to go back and watch the game,” she said. “Instead I started getting text messages that my house was on fire.”

When she was finally allowed back in, her downstairs apartment was a disaster.

“It was like it was pouring rain in there,” said Hale-Martino, a dental assistant. “The ceiling had fallen through. The smell of smoke was terrible.”

She was able to gather a few items before being asked to leave because the apartment was not safe. Most of her belongings, clothes, furniture and mattresses, were not salvageable.

She, her children and dog moved in with her ex-husband, Tony Martino.

He, along with a lot of help from the community, has organized a benefit to help his ex-wife and stepsons.

“We Didn’t Start The Fire,” a family benefit, will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at TF Brown’s on Main Street.

“She didn’t have renter’s insurance because she just moved in two months ago,” Martino said. “There might be a few things we can salvage but most everything is destroyed. I figured this was a good way to help. The community has helped a lot and everyone has been wonderful when we tell them what’s going on.”

Hale-Martino’s landlord, Jeff Heubusch, owner of Southside Deli, returned her most recent rent payment and her security deposit. Rick Mancuso of TF Brown’s readily agreed to host the benefit and Calvin Nichols of Rock Soulgers and The Trolls offered to play.

Paul Grazioplene of Extreme Streetware is donating shirts and Hale-Martino’s aunt, Cheryl Kowalik of Art Ah La Carte, and friend Paula Zirbel of Zibel’s Automotive are donating and collecting gift baskets.

Batavia School District also gave Hale-Martino’s son a $400 voucher to replace his clothes, Martino said.

“Everyone I asked has donated,” Martino said. “I just want to let people know that there are innocent bystanders who were affected by what this guy did.”

That guy is Eddie “Pops” Miles Jr.

After Hale-Martino was told to leave her apartment, police attempted to arrest Miles. He barricaded himself in the upstairs apartment and then allegedly started a fire.

His girlfriend was able to climb onto the roof and escape, though she did suffer minor injuries when she fell part way down.

Miles remained inside but eventually broke a window and climbed onto the lower roof.

He was taken into custody without further incident.

Miles was charged with second-degree arson and two counts of making a terroristic threat for threatening to shoot police.

He remains in Genesee County Jail.

Martino said that in addition to the benefit, a gofundme page has been established to help Hale-Martino.

The page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/helping-cathy-rebuild

Tickets for the benefit can be purchased at the door. Children 16 and under are free."


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