YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of people in Yonkers were finally allowed to return to their homes Friday after being evacuated a day earlier due to a four-alarm fire that broke out at a nearby discount store.
It took firefighters about six hours to put out the blaze that started at the Dollar K discount store just before 4 p.m. Thursday. Smoke from the flames could be seen for miles.
The fast-moving fire consumed the building quickly in the South Broadway business district. Buildings on both sides of the store were evacuated. Some residents said they could barely see by the time they got out.
“We thought it was going to be something fast but then we saw that smoke and it was horrible,” said resident Xiomara Paula.
“I just ran out like this,” resident Sarah Rodriguez said. “My husband took one side of the building I took the other side and I screamed like crazy ‘fire get out, get out, get out.’”
“It was all smoke,” said resident Jorge Torres. “They were knocking on doors, the firefighters.”
Investigators believe the fire started in the back of the store but haven’t pinpointed a cause. Crews had to take quick action to prevent the fire from spreading.
“The good thing is it’s a brick wall separating the building so that holds fire in check for a while,” said Yonkers Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Delasho. “That allowed us a little more time to get lines in place.”
Crews have since demolished the charred remains of the building, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the flames, but all of the residents made it out safely.
“It’s a nasty fire,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “But the fire department basically did an exterior attack because they wanted to protect the adjacent buildings and it kept the fire contained to the one building.”
Some apartments in a neighboring building suffered smoke and water damage, Champion reported.
In all, 250 people were forced to spend the night away from their apartments. Red Cross officials said a nearby school was turned into a shelter.
The Yonkers Fire Department said it appears the fire was accidental in nature.
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