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Unattended Fireplace Leads to Severe Home Fire: Findings

According to fire chief, New Castle family used fireplace to keep warm after losing power due to Hurricane Sandy.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY -- An unattended fireplace led to an accidental Thursday night fire that severely damaged a local home, according to Westchester County's Cause & Origin Team's findings.

The fire took place at 28 Ridge Road in northern New Castle, in a section that is in Mount Kisco's fire district.

Mount Kisco Fire Chief Tom Jackson, who gave the news about the Cause & Origin findings, explained that a family that had been trying to keep warm after losing power to Hurricane Sandy overextended the fireplace. 

“They [Cause & Origin] determined that there was a fireplace in the back, in the living room, that had a large fire in it and had been burning for a couple of days now since the power was out," said Jackson.

The insensity of the fire was such that a nearby wall caught on fire. The blaze spread while the family was not in the house, Jackson said, and there were no injuries. 

Firefighters responded after 7 p.m. Thursday, according to Jackson.

Jackson said that response from the chiefs was delayed because of a downed tree on Main Street; New Castle is littered with fallen limbs and wires in the wake of Sandy. However, apparatus was quickly rerouted for the scene, he explained. Even without the post- Sandy fallen limbs, Jackson does not believe there would have been a difference in fighting the particular fire they were encountering.

“The fire had a huge head start," he said.

It took roughly 10 minutes to knock down the main body of the fire, Jackson said. New Castle Police were at the scene, while the Bedford Hills Fire Department provided on-site mutual aid. Bedford Hills and Chappaqua firefighters were on standby in Mount Kisco, while the Mount Kisco Volunteer Ambulance Corps came to the scene.

Jackson cautioned people to use their fireplaces safely, noting that they can't be overextended and used to heat an entire house. 

The right side of the house suffered major structural damage and appeared to be gutted by the blaze. The right section is no longer structurally safe, either, Jackson explained.

Stephen Raquet November 02, 2012 at 01:51 PM
The downed trees should have been removed by this time. A town crewed cleared downed trees from Smith Park at 7:30am of the same day. A questionable use of town resorces when so many roads were still blocked.
mcalpin November 02, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I agree with comment.The only trees that were moved out of street were the ones the neighboors came out and moved themselves. Kisco Park residents rallied and helped each other out where needed. The bigger trees that remain are too large to remove ourelves.The trees blocking the roads really should have been at least moved to make roads passable for such emergencies. Thank god no one was hurt in fire! Our hearts go out the family!!!!!
Tom Auchterlonie November 02, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I can't speak to the specifics about Kisco Park, but in general the town's clearance strategy is to prioritize state-owned roads (which are now cleared), then county-owned roads (like Seven Bridges and Pinesbridge) and then town-owned roads. I've observed some limbs cut in two on back roads, which create narrow, ad hoc corridors, although I'm not sure who cut those. Here's the police department's Friday afternoon roads update: http://patch.com/A-znkD
Lori November 07, 2012 at 02:49 PM
This is the second New Castle fire that was caused by this power outage. On our street, Grayrock Park Rd, neighbors had cut the trees blocking our dead end street, in violation of town orders not to touch them, and thus firefighters could get through. Many streets remain blocked off to fist responders, Yet Mrs Carpenter insists upon pleading with con edison to clear the tress instead of seeking alternative solutions that would allow the town to clear the trees. If some dies, God forbid, because first responders could not get through, not only con edison, but the decision makers in local government, should be held responsible, and prosecuted for failing to act when they have a duty to do so.
Charlie November 08, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Con Ed is out of control. They just called me that my power would be restored Friday night but I have had power for 2 days. This could result in confusion and delays by crews who should be working elsewhere!! I was lucky to find out I had power and called neighbors because ConEd told me otherwise.

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