Faulty electrical wiring sparked the blaze that left several people homeless at a North Main Street building on Thursday, according to authorities.
The basement fire "was caused by a faulty electrical service" and emergency crews from Con Ed cut power to the building, at 44-48 N. Main St., after members of the Port Chester Fire Department were able to quickly bring the fire under control. There were no serious injuries.
Inspectors are still working on their official reports, but an e-mail from Code Enforcement Director Christopher Steers to village hall staff cited "dozens upon dozens of fire safety and building code violations including multiple electrical hazards and possible illegal units."
As inspectors sweep through more than 5,500 parcels in the village's two square miles, the building's owner is among those who "have ignored our attempts...to execute the mandated fire safety inspection."
Records show code enforcement inspectors sent two notices to the owner dating back to July of 2010, but the owner didn't respond. The building's owner is listed as a local limited liability company in real estate records.
On Thursday night, trustees and village hall staff credited the Port Chester Fire Department for quickly bringing the fire under control and limiting it to the basement of one building. The building's location in a densely-populated area of town gave firefighters little room or margin for error, and authorities cleared the neighboring buildings as a precaution before the fire was knocked down.
Although the fire was limited to the basement, the building has been closed off, with a placard on the front entrance warning that the structure is unsafe and shouldn't be entered. It wasn't immediately clear how many people were left homeless in the fire, but some of the victims were referred to local non-profits for assistance.
The building's owner is scheduled to meet with village attorneys this morning, and the property will remain off-limits until a long list of repairs and files are complete, including extensive electrical work.
Thursday's blaze is the latest in a series of high-profile fires to draw attention to and in Port Chester, and the alleged corruption that paved the way for the overcrowded, and buildings that have become a common sight in the village. It's also the second fire in involving electrical problems and overcrowding.
In the fire last month, a home at 142 Oak St. had , exposed electrical wiring and a long list of other problems, according to inspectors who combed the structure after it caught fire.
That home , just a few weeks before then-Building Inspector Frank Ruccolo was suspended and police opened an focused . The current code enforcement staff -- which includes a new building inspector and does not include any members of the "old guard" -- discovered Ruccolo and told an inspector the home was free of violations, according to Steers.
And a Sept. 7, 2010 fire drew the ire of residents and trustees alike when it was revealed the home not only had a long list of violations, it was also . Eight people were left homeless in the Willow Street building co-owned by former fire chief William Oxer, and inspectors said the building was modified without permits, contained , and didn't have smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
Paperwork shows an unresolved complaint from 1995 involving illegal work on the building's front porch -- it was enclosed and converted into another living space, and former building department officials did nothing about the complaint. As with Thursday's fire, the owners had managed to avoid inspection during the mandaory timeframe.
While the owner of the North Main Street building will bring his lawyer to village hall today, Steers and a few inspectors had the chance to speak with him Thursday after the fire.
"We had opportunity to impress upon the owner," Steers wrote, "that had he not ignored our requests and allowed the fire safety inspection, this incident would more than likely have been prevented."
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