Yonkers firefighters worked into the night Monday to put out a building fire that had been raging since the afternoon.
Thirty people were removed from the four-story building on Lincoln Terrace when the fire broke out at about 2:20 p.m.
Residents from buildings on either side of the flaming structure were later asked to leave their homes because of concerns over structural integrity.
The families forced out by the fire tried to come to grips with the loss of their photographs, clothing and mementos Monday night.
"Thank God my family was safe, my dog was safe, everybody was safe," said Chastity Avila. "But now we have to start all over again. Just terrible."
At the nearby Red Cross shelter, teacher's aide Shakira Griffith told NBC New York how she raced home from work to find her 4-year-old son Ronald running from the burning home, escorted by his grandmother.
When she saw him, "there was nothing I could do but cry," she said. "I'm just happy they made it out, everybody's safe."
By Monday night, investigators were zeroing in on the children who they believed started the fire.
"Our arson investigators are investigating," said Yonkers Fire Chief Eddie Cuculo. "There's a possibility there were juveniles playing with matches."
The now-homeless families had an additional concern: the time it took for firefighters to get water to the house. The hydrants on the hilly street were either dry or didn't have enough pressure.
"There was no water in the fire hydrant, so we lost everything," said fire victim Jacqueline Riley. "I had a nine-room apartment, fully furnished. It's just gone."
There were no civilian injuries, but several firefighters were treated for smoke and minor injuries.