MOUNT VERNON - A fire that ripped through a two-story house has once again ignited charges that the Mount Vernon Fire Department is understaffed.

Two families are homeless this morning after a fire destroyed their home on Willow Place. Everyone was able to escape safely, but several firefighters suffered minor injuries.

It took three hours to get the blaze under control. While investigators know the fire started in the kitchen, they are still trying to determine the cause.

Officials from Mount Vernon's firefighters union say crews were working at a disadvantage due to understaffing and the union blames Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis. "If we had enough men, we would've been able to knock it down and we would've been overhauling right now. But because of the lack of manpower, it totally got away from us very, very quickly," says Union President Ernie Richardson.

Richardson says there were 16 Mount Vernon firefighters working the scene with 35 other firefighters brought in from other municipalities for mutual aid. "It should be the other way around. Mount Vernon should have 35 firefighters and there should be less mutual aid. But that's the norm here."

Mayor Davis say the union is just playing politics. "That's something that someone who wants to keep a union job would say, but it defies common sense. The critical thing is to get to the fire on time."