Fire destroys abandoned Letchworth house in Thiells
Saturday, July 17th 2010
THIELLS — A blaze early Friday morning destroyed an abandoned building on the Letchworth Village property that had previously been the target of vandals.
It took more than 100 volunteer firefighters from six local departments hours to extinguish the fire that engulfed the Jacobson House. The long-vacant residence had once been a stately home where the director of Letchworth Village, the state facility for people with developmental disabilities, lived.
No one was hurt in the fire, which was reported shortly before 2 a.m.
Arson investigators are trying to figure out what caused the blaze, which police said was suspicious.
The vacant house on Letchworth Village Road, close to the intersection of Stewart Road, had long been the target of vandals, according to Haverstraw town Supervisor Howard Phillips.
The town bought the property from the state in 2001. The Letchworth center was closed in the mid-1990s.
"It had already been boarded up for years when we took ownership," Phillips said. "It was in complete disrepair."
The town repeatedly boarded up the three-story building, but vandals managed to break in anyway, he said.
Police said that a witness reported seeing a group of young people near the property hours before the fire was discovered.
"When we got there, it was already fully involved," said Ray Redmond, chief of the Thiells Fire Department. "It might have been burning for hours before we got there."
Because the building was vacant, firefighters fought the flames from outside without entering the structure.
The fire was so intense that the roof caved in. By mid-morning, the town building inspector had warned that the walls were in danger of collapsing.
Phillips declared an emergency, which enabled the town to move quickly to demolish whatever was left standing. Just hours later, all that remained was a chimney. The rest of the property will be leveled.
Phillip did not know how old the building was. Most Letchworth structures were built approximately 100 years ago.
The Jacobson House is in a remote area, but residents use the property for hiking and dog walking. A ball field is close by.
There have been numerous fires on the long-vacant Letchworth property.
In April, a suspicious fire leveled a vacant building adjacent to an inactive power plant on the property.
In addition to Thiells, firefighters from Stony Point, West Haverstraw, Haverstraw, Hillcrest and Fort Montgomery were at the scene of Friday's fire.
Congers and New City firefighters were on standby.
Haverstraw Ambulance was also at the scene.
This article was written by Jane Lerner and published by The Journal News on Saturday, July 17th 2010 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Letchworth Village galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.