A resident removes his belongings from 241 South Regent Street, the site of a fire early in the morning on May 2. The third-floor window where the blaze started due to a cigarette remains boarded up.
A resident removes his belongings from 241 South Regent Street, the site of a fire early in the morning on May 2. The third-floor window where the blaze started due to a cigarette remains boarded up.
A fire started by a lit cigarette forced 27 people to evacuate their homes in a three-story South Regent Street apartment building and exposed several fire code violations.

Port Chester police responded to a report of a possible fire at 12:30 a. m. on Thursday, May 2. The officer who arrived spotted flames coming from a third-floor window at 241 South Regent St. and within minutes, about 50 firefighters converged on the building. Firefighters and police worked to evacuate 27 people, including about 10 children, from the multi-family dwelling. It took the firefighter about half an hour to get the blaze under control.

"The only thing we were worried about was that it would make it to the roof, but we got there quickly, got it under control, vented it and it never made it to the roof," said Ed Quinn, first assistant fire chief.

The firefighters stayed on site for about two hours total so the Westchester County Cause and Origin could determine the cause of the fire to be accidental. The window sill had been used as an ashtray and smoking materials, such as cigarettes, were what ignited the fire, said Port Chester Police Lieutenant James Ladeairous.

There was significant destruction around the window sill from the flames, heavy smoke damage on the third floor and water damage to the floors below. There were also holes in the roof created so the smoke could vent, Quinn said.

Immediately following the evacuation, the American Red Cross set up a staging location at Corpus Christi Church for the displaced families.

"The Red Cross was there to meet their needs, including housing, food and clothing," said Abigail Adams, the Red Cross director of communications for Westchester County. The Port Chester residents either found temporary housing with friends and family or at Red Cross emergency housing.

After the Port Chester Building Department determined the building to be unsafe, Con Edison was called to shut off the power. Port Chester fire inspectors conducted a walkthrough inspection of the 8-family building and discovered multiple violations of the NYS Fire Prevention and Building Code.

The owner of the building is Irving Place Properties LLC, a subsidiary of Great American Properties LLC. Irving Place Properties also owns 221 William St., the apartment building where major code violations were exposed following an electrical fire on Apr. 12. The village plans to cite the owner of 241 South Regent St. with a Notice of Violation, but it had not been completed as of Wednesday night, May 8. Building Inspector Peter Miley said the Notice of Violation will show overcrowding in several apartments.