Massive fire engulfs a house at 349 Union Avenue (near corner of Fifth Street) in Mount Vernon, late Wednesday morning. Despite the valiant efforts of the Mount Vernon Fire department, all that was left of the multi-story house was a mound of ash and rubble. Investigators who are officially investigating how the home caught on fire and burned to the ground, tell BW the cause of the fire is unknown. As fire officials continue their investigation, local residents from the block tell Black Westchester, a generator exploded.
Members of the Eastchester Volunteer Ambulance Corps., The Eastchester and Pelham Fire Department assisted Mount Vernon firefighters during the incident, after five MVFD firefighters went to the hospital for heat exhaustion.
The massive fire that totally destroyed one home and the house to the right of it and caused heavy damage to two others across the street melting the vinyl siding, came one day after city’s decision to cancel sending four new recruits to the county’s first training center in Valhalla. The heat even melted some of the paint off a fire truck.
Mayor Ernie Davis told News 12 that it was actually the fire commissioner who made the decision to temporarily suspend the September recruiting class because it made political and fiscal sense.
The shared sentiment of the Fire Union President Ernie Richardson and several members of MVFD is we can not afford to wait. The firefighters feel the Mayor, who just lost in the Democratic Primary to Councilman Richard Thomas, is playing a dangerous game with the lives of the firefighters and the residents of Mount Vernon because of a political vendetta, due to the firefighters endorsement of Thomas instead of Davis.
Edward Williams Elementary School (located across the street from the back on the Union Avenue house that was destroyed by the raging fire, had to be evacuated when it filled up with smoke. About 600 students were safely moved a few blocks away to Unity Baptist Tabernacle Church, located at 101 S 2nd Ave. The home that was leveled was under construction and no one living in it at the time, fire official tell BW. None of the students or residents were injured.
Councilman and mayoral candidate Richard Thomas arrived at the fire with 9 cases of bottle water for the firefighters and other first-responders. Thomas calls for city hall to hire more fire fighters today and do not delay public safety another day. (see video below)
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more information on this developing story.