This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a house on fire, but it’s the first time I’ve been this close.
This afternoon, when we came to the end of the trail in Haverstraw, I asked our friend, Glen—having ridden ahead, he was already waiting there for us—where was his brother? “I was wondering the same thing,” he said.
I looked down the road and, after a minute or two, saw a spot of bright orange. I pointed, and Glen nodded. We rode ahead, and eventually caught up to Mitch at a playground. Martha arrived, and we all stopped for water. We decided to continue ahead to Haverstraw and look for a place to take a break before biking back to Nyack.
In a few more blocks, the houses became more frequent and closer together. I started smelling smoke. I spotted where it was coming from—a house, smoke trickling out the front. Glen and I stopped, but Mitch kept riding ahead. I yelled at Mitch to come back, but he didn’t hear me. Glen did the same, to no effect.
I heard a window break. By this time, the smoke was thicker and we had to back off. I heard a yell to the effect that there was someone still in there. We were wondering if we should call 911, when a siren started blaring.
Martha urged me to called 911 anyway, giving them the intersection closest to the fire. The operator said they already had people on the way, thanked me, and asking if I had an exact address; I didn’t. By this point I couldn’t see the front of the house at all behind all the smoke.
In search of air without smoke in it, we walked uphill to the block behind the house. (Mitch and Glen rode, Martha and I walked. Rockland county has steep hills!) We saw people looking at the fire from their back porches. I tried yelling, “That fire could spread, get out of there!” but was ignored. Fire trucks were arriving by this point, and we rose away to get out of the area.
We later found out that this was the second fire of the day in Haverstraw. Fortunately, nobody was in the house. The fire singed the walls of the house to its left—not the back-door neighboring house with the spectator on the porch. But the house we saw burning was lost. The cause of the fire is still unknown.
On 9w riding south, two or three fire trucks passed us going south with their sirens on.
(Some names here are pseudonyms, as I don’t yet have permission to use the real ones. I’ll update this article in the event that changes. Events happened on 26 June 2011.)