A fire ripped through row houses in Yonkers on one of the hottest days of the year so far, displacing nearly 100 people and injuring more than a dozen firefighters as well as one resident.
The blaze appeared to have started Sunday afternoon in the backyard of one home on Maple Street but it quickly spread to four nearby houses, according to fire officials and witnesses. Flames could be seen shooting from the roof and thick, black smoke blanketed the entire neighborhood. At one point, every firefighter in Yonkers was on the scene to put out the fast-moving fire.
"I felt the heat. It was sizzling and popping. I ran back inside to make sure everybody was out the door," said Carlos Bonilla.
Firefighters say they received a call just after 4 p.m. about furniture that had caught fire at one of the homes.
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"It was so terrible. Everything was pitch black. You couldn't breathe, eyes started getting watery," Marcos Archindia recalled. He said his brother saw the flames started.
"He said it started on one of the mattresses they had back there because that backyard was filled with garbage bags and mattresses; it was really dirty," Archindia told NBC New York. "So I don't know what happened. They saw the fire started. They turned back and in a minute, it was 20 feet in the air."
The flames then spread to three other homes and a total of thirty families have been displaced, including 37 children, according to the Red Cross.
One resident suffered minor injuries but 13 firefighters were hurt, many of their injuries were related to the heat.
"All our equipment is meant to keep the heat out, so it actually also keeps everything in and it's just very difficult with the amount of protection that we have on, even just working outside," Deputy Chief Joseph Citrone of the Yonkers Fire Department explained.
Investigators are still trying to figure out how that furniture became ignited. The arson squad is part of the investigation, although that is the usual protocol of a fire of this size.