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Good Samaritan Saves Family in Katonah Fire

This story has been updated to include further information from the Red Cross.

KATONAH, N.Y. – At 7:27 a.m. Wednesday, a stranger banged on the doors of the four apartments above the Katonah Pizza Station to warn the residents that their building was on fire.

Nicole Jones said, “I was still asleep when he started slamming against our doors. He came around twice. There was no smoke, no flame, we didn’t see any fire.”

Katonah Fire Chief Ben Schuberg said the fire department was notified at about 7:45 a.m. about the fire. "Everyone got out of the building," he said. "There were no injuries.”

Schuberg also said an electrical appliance started the fire, most likely a freezer, or a freezer-like machine. He also said the fire “was confined to the restaurant, and the upstairs saw minor damage.”

The Pizza Station, an informal eat-in/take-out restaurant, is located on the ground floor of a free-standing Victorian-style building. It was recently refurbished and sits on the short commercial street called Parkway.

The street was closed to traffic while emergency crews worked. Responders included the Katonah, Bedford Hills and Mt. Kisco Fire Departments and the Katonah Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The Goldens Bridge Fire Department covered for Katonah in case of a simultaneous emergency.

Jones and her neighbors, a family of four, gathered in the Katonah Restaurant to wait out the turn of events. The neighbor noted, “No alarms went off. Not even the smoke alarm.” Jones was worried about her cat. “He’s an indoor cat,” she said. “Hopefully he took cover somewhere.”

Neither Jones nor her neighbors knew who had sounded the alarm. The resident of a third apartment also escaped but was no longer in the vicinity. The fourth apartment is unoccupied.

The stranger went immediately to Steger’s Paper Mill and asked someone to call 911. Then he went into the building to arouse the residents. At that point he seems to have disappeared.

“He may have gotten on the train," said Jones. "If it weren’t for him we wouldn’t have gotten out. I’d like to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because I want to thank him. He saved our lives.”

The Red Cross arrived at the scene at 8:30 a.m. and moved the upstairs residents, six in total, out of the building, according to Michael de Vulpillieres, the Red Cross media relations manager. “Although the blaze was contained to the pizzeria, the fire, smoke and electrical damage were considerable enough to displace the six residents,” he said. The location the residents have been brought to is undisclosed.

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