Deidre Jenkins grabbed her kids, ages 2 and 4, to escape her home of four years, which was rapidly filling with smoke.
“I just had to get out,” said Jenkins, 34.
The fire, which started around noon, injured a firefighter who was fighting the flames that displaced three White Plains families. The extent of the injuries are unknown, said White Plains police.
Much of the second and third stories of the multiple family dwelling at 24 Lafayette St. were destroyed and the first floor sustained smoke and some water damage, according to volunteers of The American Red Cross, who were called to the scene to offer assistance to the victims.
For Jenkins, it started when she heard crying and the tenants who lived upstairs looking for their dog.
“I just thought that somebody was scared of the dog,” said Jenkins. “They were having people over for an engagement party, so I ignored it.”
After the crying continued and grew more intense, Jenkins went outside to see what was going on.
“I didn’t know there was a fire,” said Jenkins. “I saw smoke coming out of the back of the house and I said ‘oh no’ and grabbed my kids and went back outside in our pajamas and everything.”
Contractor Raymond Cotto was working on a kitchen at 20 Lafayette St. when he heard people up the street screaming “fire, fire, fire,” and ran to help. Cotto opened the door at 24 Lafayette St. and crawled onto the stairs and let out one of the dogs out of the house. He yelled into the smoky home.
A resident who was trapped in the attic by the flames was hanging out the roof screaming and prepared to jump.
“He was trying to jump because the smoke was coming out,” said Jenkins.
She and her neighbors begged him not to jump, and to wait for the firefighters to arrive. Cotto then grabbed a ladder to climb onto the porch and onto the roof, he then hauled the ladder up so that the trapped man could climb down the ladder from the roof.
Click on the video to hear Cotto tell his story.
Nine adults evacuated the house and only one male, who is in his 30s, accepted assistance from the Red Cross, said Carolyn Sherwin, a volunteer spokeswoman for the organization. The man lost all of his possessions. All of the victims are staying with family.
Jenkins said her home on the lower level of the house sustained mostly smoke damage.