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Chappaqua Fire Destroys Shop-Top Apartments, Displaces Seven

Chappaqua Fire Chief John Maduras talks about a fire that displaced seven people and destroyed a floral shop. Video Credit: whiteplainsdv
There are two second-floor apartments and one in the attic in this building on 91 Bedford Road.
There are two second-floor apartments and one in the attic in this building on 91 Bedford Road. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
The displaced families lived above Whispering Pines of Chappaqua, Inc. on 91 Bedford Road.
The displaced families lived above Whispering Pines of Chappaqua, Inc. on 91 Bedford Road. Photo Credit: Google Maps

This story has been updated with new information.

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- A family of three and four individuals lost everything in a fire that burned through their apartments above a florist shop in Chappaqua early Friday morning.

All seven - which include two parents and a four-year-old child - have been put up at a nearby hotel by the American Red Cross, which sent three volunteers, a Chappaqua couple and one from Larchmont, to assist the victims after the 1:10 a.m. blaze.

"That's just immediate, and then it gives them time to work with friends family to where they can go to next; find another place to live," said Carolyn Sherwin, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

The stubborn fire started in the back of the building and spread to all three floors of the building.

"We tried initial interior attack and, due to a floor collapse, we had to go to defensive operations," Chappaqua Fire Chief John Maduras said.

The main body of the fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes, but hot spots, spurred on by heavy wind, continued to produce smoke for several hours, said Maduras, who remained at the site from 1 a.m. through noon Friday.

"Wind conditions did not help," he said. "They kind of helped feed the fire and made the smoke a lot more difficult for us to operate."

About 50 firefighters from five neighboring departments responded to the scene.

The cause has yet to be determined.

The displaced families lived above Whispering Pines of Chappaqua, Inc. on 91 Bedford Road, owned by Beth Hundgen. Her son, Stetson, said she lives in Mahopac and arrived at the scene of the fire at 3 a.m.

"She was upset, certainly," he said. "It's her livelihood."

Hundgen had been at the location for about five years, and had two earlier locations just feet away also on Bedford Road before expanding to 91 Bedford Road.

Before that, she worked for her family business, Whispering Pines Garden Center in Somers. She decided to branch out on her own and had been in Chappaqua for 11 years in total.

The Red Cross volunteers provided the families with immediate financial assistance to replace their belongings, which Sherwin said were all lost. The victims also received food referrals and care packages with basic utilities like toilet paper and shampoo.

The 4-year-old child received a package known as the Stephanie Crispinelli package, after a Somers girl who died in the Haiti earthquake in 2010. It contains a teddy bear and blankets.

Those interested in helping the families financially may contribute to the American Red Cross at redcross.org.

If you have furniture or household accessories the families in transition could use when they find a new home, you may email bdonnelly@dailyvoice.com for more information.