Friday, June 8, 2012
Carmel fire: Son's cigarette, dry weather, wind were factors in fatal blaze
“The young man was in shock,” Carmel Police Lt. Brian Karst said about Thomas Sullivan Jr., 20.
“For somebody who was in shock, he was very honest and forthright with us.”
Sullivan smoked twice on May 1 — between 8 and 10 p.m. — right next to the front porch of his home in Carmel, Putnam County, fire investigators explained.
Smoldering ash from one of the cigarettes landed on the dried-out mulch and burned for hours — growing when late-night winds began to pick up.
“It lied in an area, burned and rolled for a while and took off,” said Dan Tompkins, captain of the Putnam County Fire Investigation Unit.
He added the fire was “not considered to be suspicious in nature and was not intentionally set.”
Sullivan won’t be charged with a crime, Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson said.
The fire intensified at about 2 a.m. and engulfed the home on quiet Wyndham Lane in minutes, officials said.
Four months of dry weather and the home’s lightweight construction — vinyl, wood and plastic — accelerated the flames, officials said.
“There’s a fire in the house!” yelled Thomas Sullivan, 48 — a former NYPD cop who worked in The Bronx — when the blaze began consuming the two-story home.
Four dogs also died in the inferno, including Mairead’s two pets.
He’s been living with his grandfather in Dutchess County since the tragedy.