The Sunday night fire that ripped through the upper portion of a Millwood home was spread because of how the chimney was designed, Millwood First Assistant Fire Chief Greg Santone explained.
The chimney for the house, located at 37 Shinglehouse Road, had a flue pipe that overheated, he said about a finding made by Westchester County's Cause and Origin team. The chimney's wooden frame then caught fire, and the blaze hit portions of the building ranging from the attic to void spaces at the top area of the structure.
The fire was started in a fireplace around 7:30 p.m., Santone explained, and was attended. The response from the Millwood Fire Department came by 9:01 p.m. and mutual aid was provided by firefighters from Chappaqua, Mount Kisco, Ossining and Briarcliff Manor, along with the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The blaze took about 20-30 minutes to put out, fire chiefs said.
A family that had just returned from vacation was at home but escaped without any injuries.
The problem with the chimney's structure, Santone explained, is that its wooden framing made it more vulnerable than chimneys that have masonry for the purpose. In those scenarios, the fire of the sort that was responded to on Sunday would be less likely to happen, he said.
The wooden framing for chimneys appears in newer homes, Santone said.
The fire is the third major one in the Town of New Castle to involve a fireplace in less than two months. Two house fires in November, in the northern and eastern sections of town, were caused by unattended fireplaces in homes left without power during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.