Monroe, NY – Partially Lit Cigarette Butts Identified As Cause Of KJ Area Fire That Destroyed Two Jewish Homes


    Monroe, NY – A three alarm fire that destroyed two attached homes just outside Kiryas Joel was caused by smoldering cigarette butts, according to Orange County officials.

    The fire began just after noon on Tuesday at the corner of Mountainview and Irene drives, spreading from one townhouse to the other through a shared roof, reported the Times Herald Record.

    Approximately 100 firefighters from seven local fire departments responded to the scene, battling flames that were tearing through the roof by the time they arrived on scene.

    Monroe Fire Chief John Scherne said that an initial attempt to fight the fire from the inside of the homes had to be curtailed.

    “We got pushed back by the heat, heavy heat,” said Scherne.

    Because there are no fire hydrants in the area, water had to be brought in via tanker trucks so that firefighters could douse the flames with massive quantities of water.

    Scherne said that it took just 15 minutes to extinguish the majority of the blaze, although firefighters were on scene for nearly four hours, with one treated for heat exhaustion.

    One day after the fire, Orange County fire coordinator Vini Tankasali announced the official determination that the fire had been unintentionally caused by partially lit cigarette butts left on a wooden deck.

    The Times Herald Record reported that the flames traveled up the wall adjacent to the deck and into the roof of one of the homes before making its way to the second home.

    Five people were safely evacuated from the homes by the Kiryas Joel Fire Department, the first to arrive on the scene.

    Both houses, which were built in 2011, sustained smoke and water damage, with heavy damage to their roofs and second stories. According to property records, one of the two homes houses a synagogue, Congregation Ohr Hachaim. VIN News video shows two sifrei Torah being removed safely from the house as flames and smoke spewed from the structure’s roof.

    While Tankasali ruled that the fire was accidental, Facebook user John Proffit expressed his doubts, commenting “They are just clearing for a larger multi family home/place of worship. it’s all under control.”

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    1. I don’t understand how cigarettes are Mutar if they are so bad for your health. I’m sure they would have made it into Shulchan Aruch had they been around then.

      • So then where do you draw the line? Should we ban fressing cholent kugel and gribben by a kiddush too? That’s also unhealthy.

        Do Obese people have a larger life expectancy vs smokers?

        Don’t mean to be critical and I don’t smoke. But one has to analyze, is it assur to do something that today has no direct impact on my health but one day it may have? Is that part of “Vinishmartam moed lnafshosachem”? If so where do you draw the line? Is it the addiction? Isn’t obesity also an addiction?

        • We have ossured common sense, we need go no further. Emunah, not seichel, is all we need.
          (By order of the Surgeon General the following warning is to be posted on this post, it is dripping with sarcasm and disgust).

    2. I agree that not only should rebbes teach kids about gemora but also not to smoke.

      I see too many yeshiva men smoking; don’t they know or are they just lacking brains?

    3. if you see photos of the old days before the war most Rabunim used to smoke and some Tzadikim had major Kavunes when they released the smoke from their nose and mouth. Of course those lilkes were not contaminated with nicotine and other junks but it was a mankind habit to smoke.


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