Saturday, Feb 16th

Last updateThu, 14 Feb 2019 2pm

You are here: Home Section Table Neighborhood News Fire and Ice: Scarsdale Fire Chief Explains Why It Was So Hard to Put Out the Flames at 72 Mamaroneck Road
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

Fire and Ice: Scarsdale Fire Chief Explains Why It Was So Hard to Put Out the Flames at 72 Mamaroneck Road

fire5Subzero temperatures, gusty winds, frozen hydrants and a large old home resulted in Scarsdale’s largest home fire in recent memory. Scarsdale Fire Chief Jim Seymour, who battled the fire with 80 firefighters from all over Westchester, said this was the biggest home fire he ever encountered – and said that frozen water lines, broken hydrants and hidden nooks and crannies in the 8,000 square foot Tudor-style home made fighting the fire extremely challenging.

Police received the call about a fire at 72 Mamaroneck Road just before 1 am on January 21. When the police arrived they learned that one family member was still in the house and police and the homeowner went into the house and were able to escort a 13 year-old boy out from a third floor bedroom.

The first firemen arrived at the scene in just 3 minutes, located the fire in the living room and quickly stretched their hoses inside. They found the fire next to the first floor fireplace and knocked down that blaze. However, using thermal imaging they quickly learned that the entire basement was in flames.

By then, crews from Hartsdale and Greenburgh had arrived and the men found heavy fire in the basement and also saw that the fire had moved up a wall of sheet rock next to the chimney, climbing all the way to the attic of the house.

FlamesAt this point, Seymour said they determined that the fire had spread to all four levels of the house and sent men to the basement, first, second and third floors to fight it. The house had many knee walls and concealed spaces that made it difficult to find the fire. They attempted to stop it from inside the house until 2 or 2:30 am when it was determined that conditions were rapidly deteriorating. Due to the thick smoke and dangerous conditions, Seymour ordered the 16 to 25 firefighters who were inside to get out of the building.

After 2 pm, the firefighters attempted to stop the fire from outside the house. But frozen water lines and hydrants diminished their success. The men were eventually able to find a working hydrant with water from another source at the end of the Murray Hill Extension. They strung 1,500 feet of hose from that hydrant to the house.

Seymour said that fighting the fire from outside was difficult because they were “chasing it blindly,” unable to see the source of the flames until they eventually leapt out of the third floor windows and roof.JimSeymourScarsdale Fire Chief Jim Seymour

The first team of eight firefighters from Scarsdale were joined by teams from all over the county. Seymour said they had 70-80 people all together, including career and volunteer firefighters who were cycled through due to the freezing cold, fatigue and icy conditions. The team realized they needed a bus to warm the freezing crews, and a school bus arrived from Buchanan and Beeline provided a bus as well. Yonkers sent a mini-bus and the Fairview Fire Department produced a 15 passenger bus, which all proved useful during the long night. Firefighters also warmed up in ambulances dispatched by the Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps. They were unable to secure a Scarsdale school bus.

fireinteriorThe fire was not under control until 9 am the following morning – and was not declared over until 4:30 pm that afternoon.

Many firefighters slipped or inhaled excessive amounts of smoke but refused treatment, but three were evaluated by SVAC and sent to the hospital. They were treated and released later in the day. There were no serious injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Westchester Causes and Origins team and Seymour believes it began in the living room fireplace. He said the family did report lighting a fire in the fireplace the night of the fire.

What can we do to prevent a tragedy like this one? Seymour said it was good that the house was armed with smoke alarms which detected the fire and woke the family. He advised residents to have their chimneys cleaned and fireplaces checked annually and to have an agreed upon meeting place outside the house in case fire does break out.

Seymour does not believe that the house at 72 Mamaroneck Road can be salvaged but says that’s up to the insurance company. The family left without any personal belongings and even the cars they had parked in front of the house are now encased in ice.

Photos courtesy of the Scarsdale Fire Department.

fire6

Leave a Comment

Share on Myspace
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop