VERPLANCK, N.Y. – Westchester County Arson Task Force officials determined a Christmas night fire in Verplanck was accidental, and was probably the result of a portable space heater placed next to combustible materials in the resident’s bedroom.
According to the report released Tuesday, the resident was asleep with the space heater on when she was awakened by the smell of smoke. The resident attempted to extinguish the fire before fleeing the second floor apartment at 157 7th St.
The blaze quickly escalated to a structure fire. The report notes that flames were seen coming from the bedroom window, and photo logs of the fire show a blackened apartment, charred belongings and melted objects.
The report says that “heavy clutter” in the bedroom probably contributed to the fire. It is unclear if the apartment was outfitted with smoke detectors, as the “alarm protection” portion of the fire report was marked “not applicable.”
In the course of the fire, Verplanck firefighters broke down the door of the residence. The second floor of the multi-family building sustained the bulk of the damage. The first floor was also uninhabitable.
According to Verplanck Fire Department officials, the fire started at approximately 8:30 p.m., and was under control within an hour and a half. The Arson Task Force left just before midnight.