SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. Fire officials have determined that the fire that destroyed the home of Katonah-Lewisboro School Board Trustee Dr. Peter Treyz on Tuesday was accidental and the investigation has been closed.
The origin of the fire was a stackable washer/dryer on the second floor in the bathroom area, said South Salem Fire Chief Andrew Llewellyn. The washer was running at the time of the fire and, while we cant determine the exact cause, we have determined it was an accidental fire.
The fire completely destroyed the home, which had been rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in 1981.
On the heels of the fatal fire last week in Stamford, Conn, homeowners may be concerned with preventing the same thing from happening to them. Llewellyn said the safest thing homeowners can do is to install smoke alarms and maintain them by making sure the batteries are changed twice a year. Smoke alarms, however, wouldnt have helped the Treyz family, said Llewellyn. They were having lunch at the time the fire broke out. Treyz, his wife, Betty, along with his granddaughter and her boyfriend, discovered the fire near the upstairs bathroom and were able to escape.
Smoke detectors were not an issue with this fire, Llewellyn said. They had smoke detectors in this house. This fire was completely accidental and there was nothing they really could have done to prevent it.
Llewellyn said that while the wind played a role in helping the fire spread more quickly, the lack of fire hydrants and the need to pump water in from nearby streams and lakes did not play a significant role in firefighters being unable to save the home.
In a rural fire district like this, it is always a challenge, he said, of getting water. But it only became a factor when the house was already compromised. Then it was just a matter of containing it and minimalizing it as much as possible.
Llewellyn said firefighters remained on the scene until 5 a.m. on Wednesday and returned later in the morning to check for any possible hot spots.
We brought in an excavator for that, he said.
The fire began Tuesday shortly after 1:30 p.m. at the 81 Twin Lakes Road residence and by 3 p.m., the structure was totally engulfed in flames. Llewellyn said a total of 60 to 70 firefighters were on scene. Eight fire departments responded including South Salem, Croton Falls, Vista, Goldens Bridge, Ridgefield, Conn., Bedford Hills, Pound Ridge and Somers.
No injuries were reported.
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