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Elmsford Family Regroups After Blaze Destroys Home

ELMSFORD, N.Y. – An Elmsford family is slowly looking to rebuild their lives after a fire ravaged their Woodside Avenue home nearly two weeks ago.

“We are definitely doing better than we were last week,” Sandy Caralyus said Monday. “We’re making slow progress.”

Thirteen days after a massive blaze started at 22 Woodside Ave., and spread next door to the Caralyus family's home, the Elmsford Police secretary and her husband, a detective on the force, are living in a Tarrytown hotel with their two children.

Firefighters are still working to determine what sparked the fire, but have told the family it is unlikely their home can be saved.

“It’s looking more and more like it will be torn down because of the damage to it,” Caralyus said.

The day of the blaze, Caralyus said she left the house just before 4 p.m. to run some errands. When she came back 20 minutes later, her neighbor’s home was already up in flames.

The family watched as the fire reduced their neighbor’s home to a single wall before spreading to their house, where it quickly engulfed the third floor.

“It’s a helpless feeling,” she said. “There is nothing you can do. You’re not trying to panic, but you’re upset.”

Days later, Caralyus said she toured the scene for the first time and found her son’s second-floor bedroom floor had caved into the living room, a foot of water was standing in the basement, and her daughter’s room was washed out, as well. Caralyus later learned that firefighters had pumped an estimated 1.4 million gallons of water into the home as they tried to put out the blaze.

In the end, the family was only able to retrieve their china and a few pictures.

“Everything else is a total loss,” she said. “Clothing, computers, furniture - pretty much everything else in the house was damaged.”

While it was difficult to lose the home the family had lived in the past 13 years, Caralyus said they were eager to move on.

“You feel bad for all the sentimental things, but you move forward and hopefully build new memories,” she said.

In the meantime, Caralyus raved about all the support the family had received from the Elmsford community. Everyone from the mayor to friends and co-workers to classmates and complete strangers has offered help and support, she said.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It makes me feel good that there are a lot of good people left in this world.”

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