Authorities Investigate Carmel House Fire | WAMC

Authorities Investigate Carmel House Fire

May 3, 2012

A fatal fire in Putnam County is under investigation - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports the blaze has some officials ready to call for a deeper look at state and local building codes.

49-year old Thomas Sullivan perished along with his wife and two teenaged daughters in a housefire that broke out during the wee hours of Tuesday Morning at their home in Carmel. Initial reports indicate the family succumbed to smoke inhalation. Sullivan's 20-year old son Tom Junior was able to escape the inferno. He was treated for smoke inhalation at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut and was released. He reportedly attends Dutchess Community College.

A neighbor called 911 to report the fire just before 2am - when responders arrived on the scene the house had already collapsed - now everyone is eyeing the way it was built - using a technique known as "lightweight construction" — the term used to describe wood-frame construction that relies on prefabricated components — which Rockland Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren Junior explains light-weight construction is dangerous.

Decades ago, Thomas Sullivan left New York City, where he worked as a police office in the Bronx,  for the Northern Suburbs where he eventually became a Captain in the Larchmont Police Department in Westchester County. Village Mayor Anne McAndrews promises she will be turning her attention to home-construction codes.

A preliminary investigation found that fire broke out the front of the Sullivan’s home... The Journal News quotes a law enforcement source as saying a police dog found no traces of accelerants, although the case continues to be persued as a potential crime. Samples from the scene are being sent to the State Police Crime Lab in Albany.  Police are treating the fire site as a crime scene until they can determine an exact cause.

A wake for the Sullivan family is being held today and Friday at the Balsamo-Cordovano Funeral Home in Carmel with a funeral set for Saturday at St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel.