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Famed Composer, Wife Killed In Yonkers House Fire

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A famed composer and his wife were killed in a three-alarm fire at their home in Yonkers overnight.

When firefighters arrived at the scene around 11 p.m. Wednesday, flames were shooting from the roof of the home located at 81 Hillcrest Ave.

Elderly Couple Killed In Yonkers Fire

"They had it, for the most part, under control, and then it just kept on igniting, kept on going, and it seems like every time they got it under control, it just sparked back up," neighbor Stephen Ford told CBS2's Janelle Burrell.

Four people resided at the home.

Two residents, who lived on the first floor, managed to escape with non-life-threatening injuries, but the elderly couple became trapped on the second floor, Burrell reported.

"The companies made an aggressive interior attack. They pulled them out shortly after arrival," Deputy Chief Thomas Fitzpatrick said. "They tried all lifesaving efforts. They were taken to the hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries."

The victims have been identified as 89-year-old Ronald Senator, a Pulitzer-nominated composer with an Oxford background, and his 81-year-old wife, Miriam Brickman, a Juilliard-trained concert pianist, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

The pair was known for often collaborating together.

"They're quite a legend in the area," said longtime neighbor Joyce Henry, who used to sing at the couple's house parties.

"He commissioned a composition for Israel. He composed a memorial symphony -- it was performed in London. They went on cruises a lot for years and years on the QE2, and she would be an entertainer. Amazing people," Henry added . "He also composed vocal. I never sang any of his words, but he was very, very prolific."

The couple had recently put their house up for sale, Schuck reported. They split their time between their home in New York and an apartment in London.

Nine firefighters were treated for cuts and bruises at area hospitals; five police officers were treated for smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Arson investigators were on the scene Thursday.

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