WEST BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A weekend house fire has left four women and a little girl on Long Island homeless.
It’s also sparked an outpouring of help with neighbors, merchants, and strangers trying to replace much of what was lost.
“I’ve never seen flames come that fast,” fire victim Mary Sentina told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Sentina, ,84, said it was terrifying when flames shot out of her closet on Saturday.
She knew she had to flee the West Babylon home she shared with her daughter and lifelong friends Theresa and Terese Uveno.
“I ran with what was on my back. She had no shoes on,” Terese said, “Nothing, no jackets, everything went up in flames. There is nothing left.”
They ran for their lives, saving only Terese’s 8-year-old daughter and the family cat.
“You can always replace what you lost, little by little, but thank god we are all alive,” Mary Sentina said.
The raging fire consumed the home the families shared. Everything was lost in a pile of charred timber.
Now, they’re receiving an outpouring of care.
“They stopped on the street — what can we do? Do you need clothes? Amazing outpouring, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Debbie Sentina said.
Neighbors and even strangers dropped off an endless stream of clothing, toys, and school supplies.
“The class moms from my daughter’s school — South Bay — they’re all cooking dinner every night, the PTA moms are covering her snack,” Debbie said.
U-Need-A-Bagel invited them to free breakfast every day for a month.
“I don’t know them, but they looked like good people, and I felt so bad. The story just touched me,” co-owner, Patti With said.
Replacement soccer gear was donated by Sports Shack.
“Someone loses a house in a fire — it’s terrible, I don’t care who they are, where they’re from,” co-owner Dennis Murphy said.
They also have a roof over their heads thanks to a neighbor’s invitation to stay as long as they need to.
“They just opened up their house to us. It’s amazing how the community came together for us, and they’re still coming,” Theresa said.
There’s more — $10,000 has been raised online.
The four women are looking for a new home to rent that will enable them to stay together in their supportive community.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.