Update, 4:30 p.m.:
More than 30 years of history were reduced to charred piles of rubble for Linda Lapicola Thursday.
"Very devastating," Lapicola said as she looked at the remains of the apartment building on Lakeview Drive she once called home.
"July 1 would have been the start of the 32nd year here," Lapicola said. "I have everything in there. I raised my family here and I'm now raising grandson here….we've been here a long time. We don't now what we're going to do now. My son is on his way down from Boston. We'll have to go from there. We have no place else to go."
Lapicola was one of 25 people whose homes were destroyed during a morning fire that ripped through Building E of the Hudson View Estates on Lakeview Drive in Peekskill. The fire started in rear second-floor apartment, before roaring through a shared cockloft and burning out of control as firefighters struggled to get water to the scene.
A Red Cross station was set up for residents inside an adjacent apartment building, located at One Lakeview Drive.
Carolyn Sherwin, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross of Greater New York, said mental health professionals were on hand to help residents cope. Red Cross is also working with the Peekskill Office of Emergency Management and building management to help residents adjust.
Sherwin said initial reports anticipated that there were 40 people affected by the fire, but that number has since been lowered to 25. Sherwin said 13 of the 14 apartment units that existed inside the building were occupied.
"This is an ongoing operation and we're just continuing to work hard and take care of all the families," Sherwin said.
Everyone had evacuated from the building by the time firefighters arrived.
Peekskill Deputy Fire Chief John Pappas said firefighters from Putnam County and northern Westchester County assisted at the scene Thursday, including Putnam Valley, Croton, Buchanan and Continental Village.
But Pappas said the issue firefighters faced wasn't manpower, but a lack of water.
"The guys are no good if you don't have any water and we had a limited water supply," Pappas said. "We hit a hydrant out in front of the building here, but we didn't get much water out of it."
Pappas said firefighters put a truck near a hydrant located at Highland Avenue and Garfield Street, which is about a half of mile away from the scene of the fire, and used it to pump more water.
"We started pumping water from there and the water main broke," Pappas said. "By then, we had already called in for a tanker, but they were coming in from out of town. By the time they got here, we were running whatever residual pressure we can't by that hydrant [near the building]."
But once the water tank ran dry, firefighters had to get more.
"We were in and out, in and out," Pappas said.
Pappas said firefighters were able to make an initial attack when they first arrived.
"We had the fire knocked down on the second floor, where the fire started," Pappas said. "It was through the roof when we got here and was traveling down through the cockloft when we got here…it was a tough fire to fight."
A water main break on Garfield complicated firefighters' ability to control a morning blaze on Lakeview Drive and has left some residents in the neighborhood without water.
Twenty-five people are homeless following the fire, which raged through 14 apartments at Hudson View Estates. It started at 10:30 a.m. and was still smouldering at 2 p.m.
The Red Cross set up a reception center nearby. Red Cross volunteers are working with the victims to provide emergency clothes, gear and shelter if needed.
The fire made its way up to the top of Building E and through the shared cockloft, burning out of control as firefighters struggled to get water to the scene. Low water pressure at the nearest hydrant caused them to go downhill to another—and then a water main broke, officials said.
The city sent out a NIXLE notice to residents at 2 p.m. about the water main break on Garfield, with water service interruption affecting Pemart up to Lakeview. Crews are on site to repair the secondary main.
The Continental Village, Croton and Putnam Valley fire departments assisted Peekskill firefighters at the scene. Ossining Engine 97 was on standby at Peekskill fire headquarters.