WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two men were found dead early Saturday when firefighters responded to a blaze at the YMCA in White Plains, authorities confirmed Saturday morning.
The fire broke out during the early morning hours in a third-floor room at the White Plains YMCA at 250 Mamaroneck Ave., CBS 2 reported.
It took several hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze which forced dozens of men out of their apartments, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
White Plains police Commissioner David Chong confirmed to 1010 WINS that one man’s body was found in a YMCA residential room after the fire was extinguished.
A second body was found in the building’s lobby behind the front counter, Chong said.
A murder-suicide was suspected, and police were not looking for any suspects, according to Chong.
Residents of the YMCA said the two people dead were a security guard or clerk and one of their fellow residents, as 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
A resident, Barry, said he saw the clerk as he was running out, and he was horrified.
“I just ran down the stairs and got past the mailbox and the vending machine. There was blood by the elevator, and as soon as I got by the front desk, I looked over the counter, and Mike, it was like, forget it,” Barry said. “He was a real mess.”
Octavius Wallace rents a room a few doors down from the alleged suspect he had just returned home when the fire broke out.
I got up looked out the door and there was thick black smoke coming toward me and the hallway was heated and it was hot,” he said.
Wallace described a panicked scene.
“The dude was screaming for his life. You could hear him screaming throughout the whole building,” he said.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall was told the resident who died was a troublemaker.
“The resident who did this had big, big problems,” one resident said. “The guy at the front desk didn’t have a mean bone.”
As they waited for answers about what happened residents called the security guard well like.
“He was a very sweet, down to earth person. Always very nice. Cordial,” Joel halpern said.
Resident Barry characterized the man who allegedly started the fire as very argumentative, and thinking he knows more than everyone else.
Residents said the fire could have started because of a hot plate in the suspect’s room. Hot plates are not allowed in the rooms.
Police are investigating the fire as they would a homicide.
“It’s an active crime scene. We’re investigating it like we would do a homicide investigation. We have one body downstairs by the front and then we have a second body in the room that caught fire,” White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong said.
Some people told Hall they were in a deep sleep when the fire alarm rang, and they had to run outside – many without wearing shoes.
Residents said the fire alarm often goes off at the YMCA, but is usually a false alarm.
Six firefighters were treated for minor injuries at White Plains Hospital as they fought the blaze, officials told the Journal News.
The other residents of the YMCA were evacuated safely, the newspaper reported.
Several fire departments across the county provided mutual aid.
The fire remained under investigation on Saturday, according to White Plains police.
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