33 people displaced following Easter Sunday fire in Newburgh, officials say

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NEWBURGH, N.Y. — More than 30 people were burned out of their homes by an Easter Sunday fire in Orange County.

Officials told CBS New York the blaze in Newburgh started in a vacant home, and spread quickly to three others.

Alejandro Macareno’s hands were covered in soot after he tried to salvage a few possessions from his home.

“The house fire … I don’t know what happened,” Macareno said.

He was one of 33 people forced from their apartments after a raging four-alarm fire spread from house to house on Lutheran Street through a common roof area.

Firefighters needed 10 hours to complete the job.

On Monday, Newburgh resident Jose Servellon came to help his cousins.

“I’m just trying to find the way, what organization can help them out, because last night they sleep on the street and that’s not right,” Servellon said.

Investigators said they believe the fast-moving fire likely was started inside an abandoned house.

“It’s usually someone trying to stay warm, and trying to seek shelter to get off the streets,” Newburgh Fire Chief FJ Spinelli said.

Despite progress with rehabbing homes, Newburgh still struggles with dozens and dozens of abandoned and boarded-up properties. Securing them properly is a long-term issue for the city, where a quarter of the population lives in poverty.

“We also have a very large number of squatters who come in and make access to the building,” Spinelli said.

“We got more work to do with absentee landlords, abandoned buildings that aren’t boarded up. Even when they’re boarded up, sometimes people get in them,” Mayor Torrance Harvey said.

The Red Cross is helping victims of Sunday’s fire and work is underway to secure the burned-out homes.

Soon on Lutheran Street, four more houses will be boarded up. It’s the last thing Newburgh needs.

Three people inside the vacant home where the fire started were treated for minor burns, officials said.

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