[Update, posted 5:55 a.m. Friday] Firefighters, who knocked down the flames at a house on Cross River Road in about 15 minutes early Thursday, were dispatched by an automatic alarm, officials say.
"Their alarm system basically saved the house,"Katonah Fire Department Chief Jim McHugh said. "Without it we wouldn't have been dispatched until someone saw it."
The call came in at about 3:15 a.m., during a particularly severe point of the storm. When McHugh and other first responders arrived at the scene—after taking a roundabout route because of downed trees and wires—there were few signs of a fire.
"You couldn't smell it until you walked up to the house," McHugh said.
The fire started in the utility room, which is in the basement. It's where the breaker panel is located.
"It was electrical," McHugh said. "Possibly from a surge, due to the fact that a large tree took primary wires down across from the house."
The flames stayed in the basement for the most part, but portions of the stairwell are burnt. The door to the basement was closed, so the fire did not reach the first floor.
The rest of the house sustained extensive smoke damage, according to officials. It is unlikely that the residents, who were not home at the time, will be able to return, McHugh said.
He noted that structural damage was minimal, but there is no power at the moment. The electricity meter was removed.
In total, between police officers, members of the ambulance corps and firefighters from several departments—Bedford Hills, Golden's Bridge, Mount Kisco and South Salem—about 40 people responded. Westchester County's cause and origin team was there, too.
[Original story, posted 11:55 a.m. Thursday]
A house on Cross River Road in Katonah sustained "extensive damage" to the basement, as well as smoke and water damage on the main floor, after a storm-related fire started early Thursday, officials said.
Members of the Bedford Police Department responded to a report of a possible structure fire at about 3:15 a.m. No one was home when the blaze started.
"I was told it was possibly storm-related," Lt. Jeffrey Dickan said. "It appeared a tree had come down, and it pulled wires leading to residence. It caused a short-out."
Authorities report no injuries. Katonah Fire Department Chief Jim McHugh could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.