Fire trucks and first responders were dispatched at 4:45 am Friday after three people called to report a fire at 98 Rombout Ave., the section of Rombout that is near South Avenue Elementary School. A person inside the burning home called it in, as did their neighbor, and another source. Five fire departments were needed to battle the blaze: the City of Beacon Fire Department, Fishkill Fire Department, Glenham Fire Department, Castle Point Fire Department, and Rombout Fire Department in Hughsonville, according to Beacon Fire Chief Gary Van Voorhis. Dutchess County Fire Investigators and Beacon Detective Tony Rios also came to the scene.
The people inside of the house were on the second floor when the fire started. One person jumped out of a second-floor window into the back yard, and three adults came down the stairs through the fire - which had engulfed the stairs - and exited the front door. They received burns on 60 percent of their lower bodies, according to Chief Van Voorhis. One of the residents' dogs perished, though luckily first responders were able to rescue the other dog. The Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Mobile Life took the victims to the hospital.
"I have never seen a fire that big in real life," said neighbor Katy Hope. "One of our windows looks up Rombout. The [emergency vehicles'] lights woke me up while it was still dark outside in the morning. The firefighters were not running sirens, which I found very thoughtful and I'm sure they want to keep the panic down. I could see the flames, although I wasn't quite sure which house it was. Really scary, especially as I've been thinking a lot about flammable old houses."
While the exact start and stop times of the fire have not been made public, Chief Van Voorhis noted that putting out the fire took some time. "There was a lot of debris inside," said the chief, after the fire was out. Much of the debris, including burnt metal doors and empty propane containers, had been removed from the home and placed in the front yard. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
More than 30 volunteer and career firefighters rotated through the home, battling not just flames, but cold, icy conditions, according to Chief Van Voorhis. Nature's elements added to the challenge. During the fire, a live power line came off the house, which is common in fires, Chief Van Voorhis said. That created a hurdle for firefighters to get to where they needed to in the street. The wire was on the street for 45 minutes before Central Hudson was able to come take care of it.
Ice continues to cover Beacon, as the temperatures have stayed in the high 20s since Wednesday's snow and ice storm. That part of Rombout Avenue had re-frozen since the day before, and the sidewalks remain crunchy frozen. One firefighter slipped on the ice and fell onto his back, but sprang back into action. Firefighters spread their own salt on the street as they fought the fire.
Streets remained closed later Friday morning even after the fire was out, as parents who were dropping their kids off at South Avenue Elementary were redirected from their usual drop-off route. Fire trucks and other fire and investigation vehicles lined the street hours later.
While the fire was live in the pre-dawn hours, however, one vehicle who did not have its headlights on drove around firefighters who were diverting traffic from a large yellow hose that was in use to put out the fire, said Chief Van Voorhis. Flares were set around the hose, and the car hit the flare, which hit and ripped the hose. The car also drove over the hose. The fire department is looking for details about that vehicle, who continued driving away after the incident.
Three Different Fires in 31 hours
This was one of three different fires that were blazing within just over a day in Beacon, according to the Beacon Professional Firefighters - IAFF Local 3490. On Wednesday evening at 9:40 pm, "units arrived in less than 3 minutes to find an active, gas-fueled fire in a commercial occupancy. Members quickly shut the gas off and extinguished the fire," according to the Beacon Professional Firefighters.
Additionally, an old boiler in the basement of a home also caught fire. Units were dispatched at 11:42 am Thursday for a reported chimney fire. "Units arrived in less than one minute to find an active fire in the boiler room in the basement of a residence. The fire was contained to the area of origin and quickly extinguished," according to their report on their Facebook page.
At 1:30 pm Friday, fire trucks, firefighters and investigators were still at the Rombout scene. Many of them had been there since 4:45 am.
Volunteer Fire Fighters Wanted + Donations to Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
Beacon's volunteer set of first responders have been working for decades. Mayor Randy Casale has announced during several City Council meetings that there is a need for more volunteer firefighters. During the City Council meeting on February 5, several firefighters were recognized for their years of membership - some for 50 years, some 25 years, and some relatively new firefighters who were entering their fifth year of membership.
Usually, the best way to donate to the Volunteer Beacon Ambulance Corp. or to the Beacon Fire Department is by answering the paper snail mail that is delivered to your home mailbox, or by sending in checks when you think of it.