This story was updated at 9 p.m. with information from the firefighters, residents and neighbors.
ELMSFORD, N.Y. – A fast-moving fire destroyed one home in Elmsford on Friday afternoon before jumping to the home next door, where firefighters from more than a half-dozen fire districts battled to control the blaze.
Route 100 A was closed from Woodside Avenue to Exit 4 of I-287, causing a traffic nightmare in the middle of Friday rush hour, with traffic backing up onto I-287.
The home at 22 Woodside Ave. in Elmsford is destroyed, with only the front wall left standing. The fire started at 22 Woodside, onlookers said, and spread to the house next door, which is owned by Elmsford Police Detective Robert Caralyus.
Firefighters from Elmsford, Hartsdale, Irvington, Scarsdale, Fairview, Valhalla, Tarrytown and Pleasantville spent more than five hours spraying water on the two homes.
Just before 9 p.m., Elmsford Fire Department Chief Pete DeLuca said firefighters had gotten the blaze under control.
While crews were still were working to determine the cause of the fire, DeLuca said that it likely started in the front of the home at 22 Woodside Ave., possibly in the living room.
“It was fully involved when we got here and it spread quickly,” he said.
After firefighters had put out the blaze, a large hole could be seen in the roof in the rear of the building at 24 Woodside Ave. DeLuca said the home suffered severe damage in the second and third floors as well as the roof.
Pam Stemberg, who lives at 22 Woodside Ave. with four children and three cats, said no one was hurt in the fire. No one was in the home at the time, and two of the cats were accounted for.
Stemberg said she was outside on the street talking to her neighbor Milena Din when Din's 8-year-old son, Sebastian, ran up and said the house was on fire.
Stemberg ran inside, grabbed the cats and ran out to safety. Sebastian ran to the Caralyus' home next door at 24 Woodside Ave. and told his brother Mateo, 11, and 10-year-old Robert Caralyus that the Stemberg's house was on fire. The two boys ran outside.
"If it weren't for Sebastian, we might not have gotten out of that house," Mateo Din said.
As the families stood on the street watching, flames shot out under the porch of Stemberg's home at 22 Woodside Ave.
"The house went up in flames immediately. It was unbelievable, " Milena Din said.
The fire was so hot it melted the siding on the house at 20 Woodside Ave. and caused heat damage to the home at 26 Woodside Ave.
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