Category Archives: Fires

Propane, Gasoline Create Movie-Like Fire Scene

Photo by David Raizen

A pool of flaming gasoline spread across the garage floor, gushing out into the driveway. In the backyard, a blowtorch of propane sent firefighters scrambling. A “wall of fire” had engulfed the entire right side of the home. Any one of these could be expected at a fire, but all three combined seemed more like a scene from the movie “Backdraft”.

Just after noon, firehouse speakers across the city crackled with an urgent message: multiple callers reporting a home “fully involved” by fire. Although fierce wind gusts, frigid temperatures, and a near-foot-deep blanket of snow had most people hiding indoors today, your New Rochelle Firefighters raced out into the blizzard.

The address on the city’s northern frontier meant firefighters already hampered by the storm would be even further delayed. Some of the first – and most important – fire crews would likely take 10 to 15 minutes to arrive. Then, a stroke of luck. Usually the nearest firehouse is staffed by only three firefighters. Thankfully, this was not an ordinary day. During storms, more firefighters are sometimes __ to compensate for difficult conditions. Today, an extra fire engine and four firefighters were standing at the ready and arrived within minutes.

27 firefighters battled the fire, as well as the merciless conditions, for almost 4 hours. All occupants got themselves out safely, but several firefighters were injured.

News Coverage

Snow Blower May Have Sparked Terrifying New Rochelle Fire; Investigators Say

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There were terrifying moments in the middle of the storm on Tuesday, as flames shot from the roof of a Westchester home. As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, investigators believe a snowblower may be to blame. Residents in the New Rochelle neighborhood were weathering the massive snowstorm.

Fire claims New Rochelle home during winter storm

New Rochelle firefighters had their hands full with a house fire during the blizzard. You need the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player to view the video related to this article. Download Now. NEW ROCHELLE – New Rochelle firefighters had their hands full with a house fire during the blizzard.

Around the Web

NRFD 159 THORNBURY 3-14-17 – Jon Thaler


Two Firefighters Injured Battling Destructive House Fire in North End of New Rochelle

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Two firefighters were injured early Tuesday afternoon, after a fire destroyed a single-family on Thornbury Road in the far north end of New Rochelle. One firefighter was injured when a ceiling collapsed on him. He was taken to White Plains Hospital. The other was treated on the scene.

All-Night Inferno Kills Woman, Injures Firefighter

“People trapped” – something no firefighter ever wants to hear on their radio. But just before midnight last night, that very message echoed through each of New Rochelle’s firehouses, launching crews into action.

Tragically, one of those trapped did not survive, having been in a room that was already engulfed by fire as firefighters arrived. Luckily, other residents were able to escape by climbing down a tree in the yard, preventing further loss of life.

Throughout the night, firefighters fought their way past intense flames only to be forced back out of the home again and again. Finally, in the early hours of morning, the fire was brought under control. Various collapsed areas, including much of the third floor, made operations inside the home slow and dangerous.

One firefighter was rushed to the hospital and many more were left exhausted and saddened by our lost resident.

New Rochelle FD working a fatal 3rd alarm house fire at 10 Hamilton Ave. July 18, 2016

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News Coverage

Body found after fire destroys home in New Rochelle

A body has been found after a third-alarm fire burned through a large house in New Rochelle overnight. Family members said one person, a woman, has not been located. Firefighters searched the collapsed home on Hamilton Avenue, where heavy flames broke out at around 11:45 p.m.

1 Missing, 2 Injured In New Rochelle Fire

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – One person is missing and two others are hurt after a large fire rips through a home in New Rochelle. The fire broke out on Hamilton Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Sunday. The flames consumed the house for hours.

Fire Tears Through Westchester Home, Injuring 2: Police

A raging fire burned through a home in Westchester on Sunday night, sending firefighters scrambling to control the blaze, which injured two people, police said. The fire began sometime before 11:40 p.m. at a home on Hamilton Avenue in New Rochelle. The fire was still burning after 3 a.m., police said.

Woman killed in New Rochelle house fire

VIDEO: NEW ROCHELLE FATAL HOUSE FIRE Video: New Rochelle house heavily damaged in fire | 1:03 A devastating fire ripped through a historic New Rochelle home overnight. The blaze began just before midnight on July 17, 2016. Matt Spillane/The Journal News VIDEO: NEW ROCHELLE FATAL HOUSE FIRE VIDEO: New Rochelle house fire | 0:44 Firefighters battle a fire at 10 Hamilton Ave.

New Rochelle fire victim identified

A 55-year-old woman is dead after a fast-moving fire ripped through a New Rochelle home overnight Monday.

Kitchen Fire in High-Rise Quickly Contained

Kitchen Fire @ 50 Sickles Ave
Photo By Chris “Firebike” Sekulski

Greeted by Fleeing Occupants

When the first fire trucks pulled up to 50 Sickles Avenue this afternoon, the front yard was filled with escaped occupants reporting smoke in the building.

Conditions Change In an Instant

At first, the sixth floor hallway was relatively clear, but as soon as firefighters forced open the apartment door, heavy smoke began pouring out from floor to ceiling. After a brief search, crews found a kitchen fire that was just beginning to spread into the next room, and quickly stopped it in its tracks.

Firefighting Fact

50 Sickles Ave, New Rochelle, NY 10801

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At 9 stories, 50 Sickles Ave is considered a high-rise, presenting unique firefighting challenges. For example, fires on upper floors are out of the reach of fire department ladders complicating rescue. Luckily, everything went well today!

60 Evacuated from Raging Apartment Fire

Fire Roars out of Bedroom WindowsAfter hearing that people were trapped, the crew of Ladder 12 could not wait for the protection of a fire hose. Two firefighters raced alone against a river of terrified fleeing residents up to the third floor and crawled deep into the burning apartment.

“When we got to the bedroom, the fire was right there rolling out over our heads”, reported one of those first members inside.

While his partner searched for victims, he made a stand at the bedroom door so that fire would not overtake them. “I was hitting it with the [extinguisher], holding it back”, he explained. After searching the raging bedroom, they closed the door. The reason was simple: “fire was coming”.

Luckily the occupants were already out. And then, a very welcome sound – Engine 22 bleeding the air out of their fire hose, ready to enter the apartment and put out the fire. And that they did. A short time later, the flames that had been fiercely blowing into the street and up the side of the building out of several windows were reduced to smoldering debris.

Media Reports

Fire forces 60 onto the street

Over 60 people had to be evacuated after a fire ignited in the their New Rochelle apartment building overnight. Fire officials say flames broke out

Early morning fire forces evacuation of New Rochelle apartment building: Officials

An occupant was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation and another treated on the scene

Fire damages New Rochelle apartment building

Residents evacuated on Centre Avenue NEW ROCHELLE – Residents were forced into the cold early Wednesday morning after a fire broke out in their apartment building. Everyone was evacuated from the four-story building at 77 Centre Ave. after flames tore through an apartment around 5 a.m., New Rochelle police said.

Photo courtesy of Boomer Ryder

Blizzard Baptizes New Firefighter

First car fire in blizzard

During the second-biggest area snow storm in recorded history, Engine 22’s tire chains rattled down snow-blanketed Union Ave. The heavy rig sprayed a wake of slush onto powdery piles, the tips of mirrors the only clue to the vehicles buried beneath. From several blocks away, a large plume of smoke could already be seen pouring from around the corner, whipped by winds which peaked near 50 miles per hour. This was it – Probationary Firefighter Chris Tortorella’s first chance to test his skills…

Months earlier, Chris had been a successful carpenter, supervising six men as a foreman. Although committed to his dream of becoming a firefighter, he had two young children to support. It is never easy to earn a spot in the fire department, but suffering from dyslexia meant Chris had to study twice as hard as everyone else for the three entrance exams he took over ten years. And then the letter arrived from the New Rochelle Fire Department. “It was a dream come true. It was surreal – nine years and it was finally there”. But it seemed crazy to leave a stable job with a newborn son and daughter just starting preschool. “When my wife first saw how much I was going to be paid, she said, ‘I don’t think you can do this,” recalled Chris.

Luckily, he comes from a firefighter family. His relatives reassured the couple that their sacrifice would eventually pay off, and they decided to take the chance together. Chris remembered, “My wife has always been supportive. She works full time and really helped me out by taking care of the kids while I was in the academy”.

Back to the storm…

As the corner neared, flames were revealed roaring well overhead, engulfing the front end of a car. “I saw the smoke and really just tried to rely on my training”. Guided by his experienced crew, Chris yanked the hose down from the back of the fire engine, and dragged it through a waist-high snow bank and down the sidewalk. Just as he was trained, he cracked the nozzle open and placed it under his knee so he could control the arriving water pressure. Then he placed his helmet between his knees as he put on his air mask. While this fire was straightforward, these small skills, repeated at every fire, may one day save a firefighter’s life. Once the members of Ladder 12 had pushed past and created access to the vehicle, Chris and his crew quickly advanced and extinguished the fire, protecting the cars parked closely on both sides of the tight street. While the true test of a new firefighter is his first interior building fire, any fire helps to get the jitters out. “You want to get your first fire over with,” Chris confirmed. And this fire ended with the sweetest reward for a new firefighter, a casual “nice job” from a senior firefighter. “It meant a lot”.

Engine 22 crew during the blizzard
Engine 22 crew (left to right): Lieutenant Sean DeNigris, Probationary Firefighter Christopher Tortorella, Firefighter Edgar Melgarejo, Firefighter William “Ricky” Flowers

Update: 5 Injured Firefighters Doing Well

Wood Pl Fire

Wood Pl Fire

Thank you

We are touched by the outpouring of concern and support for our 5 brothers who were injured at last week’s fire. You’ll be happy to know that they all confirm they are doing well. Initial reports varied from

“I couldn’t breathe”


“I felt fine, but when they tested me at the hospital, I had the most Carbon Monoxide in my blood – and other guys looked way worse!”

It just goes to show that, with all the synthetics in today’s homes, inhaling smoke is a big risk, for civilians and firefighters alike.

So many of you asked great questions about why this happened and what can be done to prevent future injuries. It dawned on us that, while there are plenty of educational resources for us firefighters, we’re not aware of any place where the public can go to get straight, unemotional, simply-presented answers about what really affects the safety of firefighters and civilians during emergencies.

Naturally, we created one for you!

5 New Rochelle Firefighters Injured Battling Raging House Fire

Wood Pl Fire
Wood Pl Fire

NEW ROCHELLE, NY, October 15, 2015 — Faced with an advanced fire ripping through a large home, New Rochelle firefighters pushed in aggressively. A senior officer on the first hose team reported, “it was the hottest fire I can remember… fire in every room on the third floor”. “Smoke was pumping out of [the underside of the roof]” as firefighters arrived, according to one of the first on the scene. It wasn’t long before fire, which had already jumped from the first floor to the third, had burned “through the roof”. Luckily, the homeowner got out safely.

Three injured firefighters had to be rushed to Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital for smoke inhalation and exhaustion early on. By the end, the fire had injured five of our brothers. Among the injuries were elevated carbon monoxide levels and smoke inhalation. With all the toxins in today’s smoke, these exposures often add up to cancer, and any single one can be potentially devastating. There have been cases around the country where firefighters have gone home with similar symptoms, and sometimes died days later. Usually we get lucky…

While many factors contribute to the outcome of any fire, it is important to note that almost every fire company in New Rochelle is one firefighter short of the industry standard minimum staffing to effectively fight house fires. This allows the fire to grow as each task takes 20% longer, as proven by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) experiments. A Providence FD study showed that adding the missing firefighter to each company reduced injuries by 24%, which would equate to 1 or 2 fewer injuries at this fire.

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