Son's Discarded Cigarette Ashes Started Fatal Carmel Fire: Official

The May 1 fire in Carmel killed a police captain, his wife and their two teenage daughters

Friday, Jun 8, 2012  |  Updated 6:31 AM EDT
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The raging fire in Carmel that nearly wiped an entire family started when a lit cigarette was carelessly flicked into some mulch, officials say. Perhaps the most devastating part of it all was that the only survivor of the fire was the one smoking the cigarette. Ida Siegal reports.

NBC New York

The raging fire in Carmel that nearly wiped an entire family started when a lit cigarette was carelessly flicked into some mulch, officials say. Perhaps the most devastating part of it all was that the only survivor of the fire was the one smoking the cigarette. Ida Siegal reports.

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Mourners paid their respects at the wake for Police Captain Tom Sullivan, his wife and their two daughters, who died of smoke inhalation when a fire consumed their Carmel, N.Y., home Tuesday. Roseanne Colletti reports.

Community Mourns Family Killed in Fire

A New York police captain, his wife and two daughters died when their Carmel home went up in flames. Only the captain's son survived. Gus Rosendale reports.
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A young man's discarded cigarette ash sparked the house fire that killed his parents and two sisters in Carmel, N.Y., officials said Thursday.    

The May 1 fire killed Larchmont Capt. Thomas Sullivan Sr., his wife, Donna and their two teenage daughters. The 20-year-old son escaped.

Officials said the son, Thomas Sullivan Jr., had been smoking near the front porch, where the ashes were tossed.    

"We asked him, you know, 'Does anybody in the house smoke, have they you know, been outside anywhere smoking?'" said Lt. Brian Karst of the Carmel Police Department. "Right away he told us that yes, that he was a smoker, that he had smoked outside."

The ashes smoldered for several hours before plastic lattice attached to the house caught fire, and the blaze spread, officials said. The house was quickly consumed in a fireball.

A coroner said the victims died from smoke and carbon monoxide.

Police said the son was told Wednesday night that his cigarette ash was the cause.

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