5 people died in an apartment fire in Long Island NY last Tuesday night. The fire erupted around 10:40 pm in a century-old house located on East Second Street in Riverhead. The house had 3 apartments with the landlord living in one of them on the ground floor and two other families living on the second and third floor. A total of 10 people lived in the house. 5 of them who were living on the top floor died in the fire. It was a mother with her son and daughter as well as her two nephews.
According to preliminary investigations, the fire might have been started by a cigarette. The fire was discovered by a resident of the second floor who had stepped out to walk his dog. As he was returning home he smelled the smoke and then heard the neighbors screaming “Fire”.
The investigators are still trying to figure out if there were smoke alarms installed in the apartment and if there were, why they didn’t work.
New Smoke Alarm Law in NY requires different types of smoke alarms
Smoke alarms can save lives. In the US 3 out 5 people who died in a fire, were in a house with no detectors or detectors with dead batteries or no batteries. Since April 2019, any new smoke alarm or any replacement alarm must be either hardwired to the home or powered by a sealed 10-year battery. While the initial cost of a sealed detector is around $20 to $30 which is more expensive than a detector with removable batteries, the cost of changing batteries over a 10 year-period is estimated at $38. Therefore in the long term, 10-year sealed detectors are cheaper and safer.
If you live in a rented apartment, your landlord is responsible for the installation of your smoke alarm. It is always a good idea however to personally check them to make sure they work and call your landlord to replace them if they don’t.
Picture of the house before the fire; courtesy of Google Map