12-year-old charged with starting Yonkers fire that displaced dozens

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YONKERS, N.Y. (PIX11) -- A 12-year-old boy has been charged with starting a fire that displaced nearly two dozen people from two buildings in Yonkers.

The fast moving fire that broke out at 191 Saratoga Avenue spread to a five-floor apartment building next door, was reported just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

“The whole top of the building was on fire.  It was horrible,” said Raisy Pereya, who saw the flames from her house across the street.  “The whole block was filled with smoke.  You couldn’t see anything at all.”

Residents from both buildings were evacuated, and there were no reports of any injuries.

The 3-alarm fire forced 35 people from their homes, many requiring assistance from the Red Cross.

The 12-year-old,  whose name is not being released because of his age, apparently lives at the house where he allegedly started the fire.

He was taken into custody Sunday, and charged with second-degree arson.

He remains at Wood Field Cottage,  a juvenile detention facility in Valhalla.

“I happen to know the father.  He’s a member of my church.  (He’s) a good man, a decent man,” said neighbor William Arroyo.  “Just a tragedy to see so many good people displaced.”

Authorities have not said how the fire started.