GREENWICH, Conn. — Daniel DiPaolo said he was awestruck by the scene as he drove down West Putnam Avenue toward his rental property early Friday as flames shot out of the home at 63 Riverdale Ave.
"It was very dramatic. You could see the flames from the top of the hill," he said, motioning to West Putnam Avenue in the distance. "The flames were at least 20 feet in the air."
Although he has to wait for the adjuster and the insurance company to complete their investigation, DiPaolo isn't hopeful about the condition of the house.
"I'm assuming it's going to be a total loss," he said about the building that was extensively damage in the rear and the roof. He said it also sustained heavy water and smoke damage.
"The smoke damage is horrific. Everything smoldered and melted. They pumped 12,000 gallons of water in there, you can just imagine how much damage that caused," he said.
The fire was discovered at 1:30 a.m. by a next-door neighbor, he said. A family of four was living in both of the upstairs and downstairs units in the two-family home. DiPaolo said they escaped unhurt as smoke alarms blared in the home when the blaze broke out.
"It's pretty devastating," he said. "They lost everything inside, everything."
No firefighters were hurt battling the large blaze, said Chief Peter Siecienski, and the cause was still under investigation.
Despite the extensive damage, DiPaolo praised the firefighters.
"I can't say enough good things about the Greenwich Fire Department and the Cos Cob Police," he said. "They here within five minutes of the 911 call. Under 10 minutes they had the ladder truck and were pumping water in. They were on the scene here until 10:30 a.m."
He also praised the support offered by the American Red Cross.
Four firefighters were sent into the house, but the fire became too intense and they had to exit, he said. That left firefighters to work entirely from the outside.
"The fire started on the right rear of the home. We don't know yet how it started," he said.
The home is located in the Pemberwick section of town and is less than 200 feet from the New York State line on a street that continues into Port Chester, N.Y.