That's according to Jason Blauvelt, first assistant chief with the Croton Falls Fire Department. Blauvelt said it was "very lucky" that the fire didn't reach the third floor of the building, which is nearly 100 years old.
"if that fire had gotten up there we would’ve lost the whole building," he said, noting the structure's balloon-frame, which allows flames to spread quickly and often makes battling a blaze difficult. "If it had a few more minutes of burning on its own it probably would’ve gotten into the attic and it would’ve been disastrous."
An occupant of one of the apartments on the second floor was back in the space Tuesday night, but a couple in the neighboring apartment was not. A Brewster High School teacher, his wife and their dog were displaced by the fire, which started in their apartment around 3:40 a.m. Tuesday.
They awoke to smoke detectors, opened their bedroom door and saw flames and smoke, Blauvelt said. With the dog in tow, they exited through a bathroom window that led to the roof of a neighboring shop.
"Thank God the people had working smoke detectors, because that’s what woke them up," Blauvelt said.
When officials arrived they discovered fire and heavy smoke billowing out of the second floor windows, so they made an "aggressive attack." Firefighters responded from Bedford Hills, Brewster, Golden's Bridge, Katonah, Mahopac, Somers, South Salem and Yorktown. The North Salem Ambulance Corps also responded.
The Westchester County Cause and Origin Team has deemed the fire accidental. A cause was not available Wednesday.
Fire damage was contained to the second floor but the third floor did see heavy smoke damage. Croton Creek Steakhouse and Wine Bar, a restaurant on the ground floor, was unaffected.