Traffic on Route 303 was redirected Friday evening due to a house fire in Congers. Both lanes were closed right after Hilltop Road/Randi Lane up to the entrance to the Stratford Arms Condos.
The home behind Restaurant X in Congers caught on fire a little after 8 p.m. There were no injuries.
Congers Fire Department Chief Mike Shields said the fire was called in at 8:19 p.m. and that the fire started in the kitchen, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"They (the residents) were on their way out (when the fire started)," he said, so no one was injured. "The whole kitchen is destroyed. It made its way up to the second floor, but we got it before it hit the attic. Right now we're just soaking it down and overhauling."
The residents were having a bbq with their friends and family in the backyard. A single balloon tied to a table in the backyard is still floating in the breeze from the family get-together just an hour earlier.
“It was small (at the beginning) we saw fire and we put towels and blankets on it, but then the smoke was getting bigger, so we had a big hamper and started breaking the walls (to let the smoke escape),” said a man whose brother-in-law was the homeowner. “It was teamwork really. We started breaking the walls before the fire department came here. When they got here we directed exactly where to go. The Congers Fire (Department) did a good job.”
After Congers FD arrived at the scene, they broke open the several glass windows and quickly used a chainsaw to carve large holes on the sides of the house to allow the smoke out and let oxygen in before the fire spread further.
Congers Fire Department were assisted by Valley Cottage, Haverstraw and New City fire departments. Rockland Paramedics and Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance were on the scene, as well as Clarkstown Fire Inspector and O&R.