YONKERS, N.Y. – Fire officials are considering numerous scenarios, including arson, as the cause of a two-alarm blaze that destroyed an abandoned building Monday night in Yonkers.
Investigators deemed the fire at 35 Odell Ave. suspicious Tuesday after a Westchester County K-9 dog found accelerants on the side of the former carriage house, Fire Captain Larry Cucolo said. Firefighters also found accelerants, including cans of brake fluid, in what used to be the garage. The building is about 100 years old.
Cucolo said officials have found that the secluded building, estimated to have been vacant for nearly a decade, has been a destination for squatters, gangs and teens looking for a place to drink alcohol.
The fire may have been started accidentally by squatters trying to keep warm, or it may have been arson, Cucolo said.
“Right now we’re not sure what transpired, but it looks pretty obvious that something suspicious happened there,” he said.
Firefighters responded at 8:52 p.m. Monday to reports of smoke in the area of Odell and Warburton avenues, Assistant Fire Chief Robert Capurso said at the scene. Some five minutes later, crews from Engine 308 located the fire at an abandoned two-story, wood and stone building at 35 Odell Ave.
But by the time firefighters arrived, the building was too heavily involved for them to enter. Instead, they fought the blaze from outside the building.
Cucolo said the fire is believed to have started in the area that used to be the garage.
At around 10 p.m., 54 firefighters were still working to get the blaze under control, using a ladder extended into the tree tops to spray water down onto the bright orange flames.
On Tuesday, firefighter’s union president Barry McGoey said crews had difficulty fighting the flames because the building was deep in a wooded area and served only by a thin cobblestone path.
“Firefighters had the greatest challenge in delivering water to battle the two-alarm fire, quickly stretching very long hose lines of up to several hundred feet up the narrow footpaths to reach the structure and get water on the blaze,” he said in a statement.
There were no reported injuries.