Fire Forces Evacuation Of North Chatsworth Apartments

by Judy Silberstein

(December 8, 2008) More than 40 residents of the 7-story apartment building at 21 North Chatsworth Avenue were evacuated from their smoke-filled building on Saturday evening, December 6. Town of Mamaroneck’s (TMFD) firefighters were called to the scene at around 9:30 pm. They chopped their way into the building superintendent’s first floor apartment, the source of the smoke, and quickly doused flames coming from a hall closet.

21 North Chatsworth fire
Photo by lyndalarch

The apartment fire was only one of seven calls that kept TMFD busy from 1 am Saturday morning to 2 am Sunday. “It was a busy, long tiring, day, said Fire Chief David Commender.

Westchester County’s cause and origin team later determined a light bulb had ignited clothing on the closet shelf at 21 North Chatsworth. The superintendent had been away from his apartment for around thirty minutes, and smoke had already made its way to the top floors, where it was detected by a resident who called 911, reported Chief Commender.

“Our main concern, once the residents were evacuated and safe, was that the fire not extend to the floors above,” he added, “That would have made a much larger incident.”
“I smelled what I thought was burning paper,” said Peg Cozzi, a first floor resident of the building. “I called the super on his cell phone, but he was already rushing back to the building,” she said. A few minutes later, when she opened her door, the entire lobby was filled with smoke. “The assistant super was in the lobby, and the firemen were on his heels.”

Firefighters assisted several frail, elderly or handicapped residents to the lobby of 16 North Chatsworth, where they, along with the rest of the evacuated residents, sheltered from the cold and heavy snow, which was falling at the time. Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe and Town Administrator Steve Altieri showed up along with representatives from the Red Cross, reported Ms. Cozzi.

Approximately 45 TMFD firefighters were at the scene said the chief. Additional support came from Village of Mamaroneck and Village of Larchmont; Town of Harrison units stood by at the Weaver Street fire house.

By around 1 am, residents were allowed to return to their apartments, and a few minutes later electrical power was restored throughout the building.
“I feel fine – I feel very grateful - the fire department was so expert and reassuring.” said Ms. Cozzi. “The children [8 youngsters from 6 months to 5 years old] were so well behaved, it was truly extraordinary,” she added. “Everybody really came out and pitched in. It’s nice to live in such as caring community.”

After the fire, TMFD responded to two separate calls to investigate “odor of gas.” They also were called to an auto accident on I-95 and a small residential chimney fire. In addition, they helped police break into an apartment, when relatives were unable to reach the elderly resident. The resident was found to have died.