Flames gutted a Whitestone house on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the three-story home a smoldering shell and taking the lives of the owners’ two pet dogs.
“My two dogs were killed and they were the most valuable things I had,” said James King, who with his wife owned the house at 149-61 Powells Cove Blvd.
King and his wife were out of the house when the Fire Department called him about the fire.
But the couple’s shih tzu dogs, Benjamin and Chip, were inside the home, where they died in the blaze.
According to neighbor Ray Colalillo, the fire started in the rear of the home, which faces the East River, at 1:30 p.m. and quickly moved through the front of the building as strong winds stoked the flames. The Fire Department characterized the fire as a “two-alarm” blaze, and it took an hour for firefighters to extinguish the fire. When the firefighters arrived, they swiftly broke through the front windows and jumped into the blazing home, according to Colalillo.
“At first I saw smoke from my window,” Colalillo said. “And then pretty soon flames were bursting out of the windows and skylights. By then I called the cops. Within five minutes firefighters were here and they moved quick.”
The Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire. King’s son and daughter, who are now adults and no longer live at the house, looked on as firefighters picked through the wreckage of the home they grew up in.