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Snow Blower May Have Sparked Terrifying New Rochelle Fire; Investigators Say

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There were terrifying moments in the middle of the storm on Tuesday, as flames shot from the roof of a Westchester home.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, investigators believe a snowblower may be to blame.

Residents in the New Rochelle neighborhood were weathering the massive snowstorm. They were stunned to see huge flames shooting out of the home on Thornbury Road.

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Kevin Ross lives two houses away.

"It was pretty fierce. There was smoke everywhere on a lot of fire. So we are all concerned about it leaping over to another house, but thank god it was able to stay contained," Ross said.

The intense fire --which started in the garage -- devoured the one story wood framed home in a matter of minutes.

Firefighters were looking into the possibility that the fire was caused by a handpush snowblower that the home had just used, and then parked and refueled near propane tanks in the garage.

"The fire might have impinged on the safety valve blew off on the propane tank and it added some fuel to the fire as well as the gasoline in the garage that he had stored I guess," New Rochelle Fire Department Chief Louis DiMeglio said.

Everything in the garage including a car was destroyed. The rest of the house has serious smoke damage.

Thankfully the family of four and their dog was able to safely escape.

Firefighters said the heavy snow and bitter cold make it a struggle to save the home.

Chief DiMeglio said his firetrucks -- though fitted with snow chains -- struggled to get through unplowed secondary streets.

"It took us a little over an hour and a half to get it under control, and you're hampered by the weather. Snow make it more difficult to get our hoses and other equipment into the fire area. So it didn't help," he said.

Firefighters were able to turn off the natural gas line to the home while they fought the fire.

Neighbors were grateful.

"It could've been a lot worse. Thank god it wasn't," one neighbor said.

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