MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three homes were consumed by flames in a late night fire in Mount Vernon.
The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Sunday at a home on South Third Avenue.
Fire officials say by the time that crews arrived on scene, the home was completely engulfed.
“Fire was coming out on all sides upon our arrival,” Mount Vernon Fire Chief Al-Farid Salahuddin said. “So it had a good start on it before we were called.”
A heaping pile of smoldering debris is all that remains of the abandoned home where the fire ignited. The flames quickly spread to the houses on both sides.
“That thing spread quick and it spread through this house very quickly,” resident Anthony McDade said. “You could see the flames just coming up on our windows and stairwells. Big, huge flames.”
One of the homes destroyed in the fire has been in the Terry family for nearly 60 years.
“My grandfather built this house from the ground,” said Henry Terry, whose grandfather was a well-known fixture in Mount Vernon. “All of my childhood and most of my adult years, all up in flames.”
Terry said his uncle and others were inside when flames leaped from the abandoned house where it erupted, to the Terry home at 215 South Third Avenue and then to an empty house that was for sale.
“Another relative who lives across the street ran and got everybody out of the house,” Terry said.
Neighbors said the house where the fire started had been abandoned for years, but was sometimes used by squatters. On Sunday night, a homeless man and his dog were inside when the fire erupted. Both escaped.
Residents say the abandoned properties are not only eyesores, but potential dangers as well.
“They sit there and they’re a blight to the neighborhood,” Jim Killoran, CEO of the Westchester Habitat for Humanity said. “You had 500 families that could have lost everything last night.”
Terry is grateful nobody was injured.
“The beauty of it is nobody was hurt, nobody was lost,” Terry said.
There was a partial collapse in the rear of the Terry residence and the home where the fire started also collapsed, fire officials said. It took crews two hours to get the fire under control.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.