Elmsford Boy a 'Hero' After Fire Warnings

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11-year-old Mateo Din (left) said he might not have escaped an Elmsford home that went ablaze Friday if not for the warnings of his younger brother Sebastian (right).
11-year-old Mateo Din (left) said he might not have escaped an Elmsford home that went ablaze Friday if not for the warnings of his younger brother Sebastian (right). Photo Credit: Matt Bultman

ELMSFORD, N.Y. – Family and neighbors hailed a quick-thinking Elmsford boy as a hero Friday after he alerted a woman her home was on fire – a move that likely saved the life of a couple cats and maybe even his older brother.

“He was the hero of the day,” said Pam Stemberg, owner of the home at 22 Woodside Ave. that was completely destroyed in the afternoon blaze.

Sebastian Din, 8, was riding his scooter near his home Friday when he smelled smoke and saw flames coming from under the porch of Stemberg’s home. The boy ran down the street where his mother, Milena, was standing outside talking to Stemberg.

“He ran up and said ‘your house is on fire,' ” Stemberg, a creative writer, said.

As Milena Din called 911, Stemberg was able to rush into the house to grab one of her three cats just minutes before the small blaze erupted and the home was completely engulfed in flames. Her other cats had escaped on their own.

“The house went up in flames immediately. It was unbelievable,” said Milena Din, who is also president of the Greenburgh Central School District 7 Parent Teacher Association.

Firefighters said the flames spread quickly next door to the home of Elmsford Police Detective Robert Caralyus, where Sebastian Din’s older brother, Mateo, was playing with a friend. 

But thanks to the warnings of Sebastian, who ran into the house to tell Mateo, 11, and 10-year-old Robert Caralyus that the Stemberg's house was on fire, the two boys and family cat were able to escape unharmed.

“If it weren't for Sebastian, we might not have gotten out of that house," Mateo Din said.

Elmsford Fire Chief Pete DeLuca said the blaze likely started just after 4 p.m. in the front of the home at 22 Woodside Ave., possibly in the living room.  From there, it spread to the Caralyus’ home, causing severe damage to the second and third floors as well as the roof.

As firefighters fought the blaze, Sebastian Din’s red scooter sat on the front lawn where he abandoned it in a rush to warn his brother. Sitting on his front porch and eating a slice of pizza as water cooled the last of the flames, Din said it felt good to be called a hero, but looked sadly at the houses across the street.

“It was not good,” the second-grader at Highview Elementry said. “It was really bad. The houses got burned really bad.”

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Thank you for an excellent article. I plan to ask the Town Board to honor Sebastian at an upcoming Town Board meeting. His quick thinking saved lives and helped avoid damage to other homes. He is a real inspiration. PAUL FEINER, Greenburgh Town Supervisor