Residents Jumped From Windows To Escape Blaze; Several Families Displaced

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities are investigating a “suspicious” fast-moving fire that displaced several families early Wednesday morning in Yonkers.

The fire broke out in a three-story, multi-family building around 2:30 a.m.

All of the residents got out safely, but Danielle Doughty and her three children, a 13-year-old girl and 3-year-old twins, were forced to jump from the windows to escape the flames.

“I was asleep, I had to do something,” Doughty said. “I had to throw my babies out the window.”

A friend who had just arrived at the house caught the twins, but Doughty and her other daughter were injured when they jumped.

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“It’s just crazy, something like that you can’t explain,” said Lavon Murrell, who lives on the third floor. He, his wife and four kids escaped out a back door. “I’m still shaking right now. But by the grace of God, everybody got out, everybody’s alive.”

The frigid weather was a concern for Lisa Rogerson, who lives in the basement. She’s eight months pregnant and got out of the house on her own.

“Scared, cold, nauseous, want to throw up,” she said. “Wondering what I’m going to do tonight.”

Despite the icy conditions, firefighters put out the flames within half an hour. Everyone inside survived thanks to Murrell, who braved smoke and flames to bang on doors.

“If it hadn’t been for them, I would have been burnt up,” Doughty said. “God was my helper, my neighbors was my helper, everybody was my helper today.”

“I’m not a hero. I had to get my own family out,” Murrell said. “Call it what you want — I call it survival.”

No word yet on what caused the blaze, but authorities said the fire may have been intentionally set. They said the fire started on the first floor, which is vacant.

“We’re looking at where the fire started in the hallway,” Assistant Fire Chief Edward Cucolo said. “There’s nothing really in the hallway to burn, so the amount of smoke, the amount of heat, the amount of fire — we’re just looking at this a little bit closer. It just looks suspicious.”

An arson squad spent hours combing the scene.

Doughty’s twins are doing fine, but her 13-year-old daughter remains at Jacobi Hospital and was undergoing reconstructive surgery.

The investigation is ongoing.

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