A Sunday night Sparkill, NY fire, sparked by a space heater, damaged two buildings and put two families and some 21 people out into the cold. Firefighters arrived to a scene with flames shooting from several buildings, but were able to quickly tamp down the blaze.
Bill Demarest reported in Nyack Free Press first wrote on the incident and contributed to this report. Rockland County Director of Fire and Emergency Services Gordon Wren Jr. said Monday that a heater in an upstairs apartment unit was too close to clothing and led to the fire.
Firefighters of Sparkill’s John Paulding Engine Co. No. 1 were assisted by volunteer firefighters from Piermont, Orangeburg, Blauvelt, Nyack, Tappan and Northvale, N.J in a weekend Sparkill blaze. / Bill Demarest
Wren sent out the message urging Rockland County residents to use extreme caution with these electric space heaters. “With more extreme cold coming, we want people to be careful how they use these space heaters,” Wren said.
Wren said that Rockland County has experienced repeated incidents over the years involving electric space heaters, stressing caution in where people place their electric heaters, especially in bedrooms. Clothing, blankets, paper, and other items placed on heaters have caused major fires, such as Sunday’s Sparkill blaze, said Wren.
Sunday’s fire damaged two buildings, including the Roost restaurant and La Bomba Grocery, while landing four families that lived in upstairs apartments out in the cold.
The American Red Cross reported that it assisted 21 adults and four children in four families, related to the Sparkill blaze, providing emergency shelter for one family that did not have any place to go.
Firefighters of Sparkill’s John Paulding Engine Co. No. 1 were assisted by volunteer firefighters from Piermont, Orangeburg, Blauvelt, Nyack, Tappan and Northvale, N.J.
Firefighters worked in frigid temperatures, dousing the blaze while carefully maneuvering on in icy conditions. With several pockets of fire flaring up, firefighters eventually had to cut holes into the roof on the third story of one building to reach fire in the attic.
There were no injuries in Sunday’s Sparkill fire.
Space heater tips:
- Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
- Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
- Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.
- Keep heaters away from clothing and other material that can catch fire.
- Use caution in the placement of the heater – don’t put an electric heater on top of a television or a plastic table.
- If you are using an extension cord, if it is thinner than the cord on the heater itself get a heavier extension cord.
- Don’t put a heater too close to a bed. Blankets, sheets, clothing and other items frequently fall off beds and can land on the heater.
- Don’t leave a space heater unattended.
- Replace aging space heaters with new models.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.
Photos and information courtesy of Bill Demarest and Nyack Free Press.