A fire Monday evening forced the evacuation of a three-story apartment building in New Rochelle.
Chief Louis DiMeglio of the New Rochelle Fire Department, said the call came in about 5:30 p.m. of a fire at 52 Drake Ave.
He said the blaze started in the basement with some scrap wood burning.
That fire was knocked down quickly with an extinguisher, but fire fighters then discovered that it had already gone into the walls and the ceiling.
Soon the fire had spread to the first, second and third floor, DiMeglio said, and a second alarm went out.
Eventually there was a partial roof collapse in the rear of the building, he said.
"There's 4-1/2 to 5 feet of water in the basement," DiMeglio said. "We don't know if we'll ever find out the cause."
The Red Cross was on the scene providing snacks to the five families living in the building.
Spokeswoman Abigail Adams said the organization is helping three of the families with food and clothing and will do referrals to further help them.
DiMeglio said there were 30 fire fighters at the scene with three trucks in service. They were there until after 11 p.m.
He said one fire fighter suffered a minor hand injury when he slipped on ice. There were no other injuries.
Working in the bitter cold, DiMeglio said, made fighting the fire more onerous.
"The cold saps your energy," he said, adding that many of the fire fighters had ice coated over their protective gear.
Yonkers, Greenville, and Easchester fire departments assisted with mutual aid by manning the New Rochelle fire houses.