GRASMERE — A two-alarm fire in a private development destroyed two homes, damaged a third, and left one good Samaritan homeless for the holidays.
Firefighters received the call shortly before 1:30 p.m. of a fire at 151 Gateway Dr., in the private Stonegate community. The fire spread into the attached home at 153 Gateway Dr. and damaged a home behind them, said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief James Leonard.
Damage from the fire caused the interior of both 151 and 153 Gateway Dr. to collapse, but no injuries were reported in the blaze, Leonard said.
"We have accounted for everybody in all the buildings," Leonard said.
However, neighbors initially feared the worse for the owner of 151 Gateway Dr., Joel Tricarico, 76, who's car was parked in the driveway but couldn't be found by residents and rescue workers. However, Tricarico, a semi-retired psychiatrist who works with adults with anxiety disorders, was in Manhattan since the morning and returned home to find his home in shambles.
"I'm sorry I put them through all that concern," Tricarico said. "I'm sorry everybody got worried. They did what they could to make sure I was O.K."
Tricarico, who has no family nearby, said he would now be staying in the Midland Beach home of a Hurricane Sandy victim who stayed in his home for nearly nine months after the storm. The woman declined to give her name.
"Fortunately, the Sandy victim is back in her home," he said. "I guess we're going to switch places."
Tricarico said he lost everything he owned in the home he lived in for nearly 12 years.
"I have just the clothes on my back at this point," he said.
He said when he returned to his neighborhood and saw the nearly 125 firefighter on scene, he had no idea it was his.
"I came home and I saw all these trucks and I said 'I hope nobody got hurt,'" he said. "I had no idea."
The blaze was under control by 3:48 p.m., fire officials said. Officials on scene did not give a cause for the fire, but said it was under investigation by the fire marshals.