Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spring Valley fire: Owner faces code violations 

The owner of a Paikin Drive house severely damaged by fire Tuesday is expected to face violations after investigators found the building lacked working smoke detectors and had at least one illegal bedroom.

Two families totaling 12 people, including children, were displaced when the flames destroyed the kitchen and damaged three bedrooms that had been carved out in the lower level, Spring Valley Fire Inspector Frank Youngman said.

Youngman said the 3 p.m. fire erupted in the lower level of 27 Paikin Drive but the cause remains undetermined. He's being assisted by the Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

One violation will contend the dining area next to the kitchen had been illegally converted into a bedroom, Youngman said. The house also lacked working smoke detectors in the bedrooms and hallways, he said.

Building and fire officials don't suspect the house had been illegally converted into a boarding house. Two families can share a house, and regulations permit two people to share bedrooms, depending on the size of the rooms, Spring Valley Chief Building Inspector Walter Booker said.

"It's a one-family house and appears legal," Booker said. "The dining room being converted into a bedroom is illegal."

The Rockland Health Department said the house may need to be demolished.

The building is located in a neighborhood where larger houses are being constructed to accommodate the growing Hasidic Jewish population.

The owner, Menachem Stern, could not be reached for comment. Tax records give 27 Paikin Drive as his address, but he doesn't live at the house.

Booker said his office is understaffed and can't inspect all the large housing apartments, businesses, and older houses in the 2.5-square-mile community. Booker said the department has three inspectors — one just recently hired — out of six employees, including himself. Youngman works part time.

Booker said he has asked village administrators for more staffing, noting that in 1996 the department had a staff of eight and a smaller population.

Youngman said he's playing catch up inspecting hundreds of businesses, some of which have not been reviewed in years.

The displaced families were provided shelter by the Red Cross and have relatives living in the community. Youngman said he plans to re-interview the tenants about conditions in the house and how much rent they paid.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Chaptzem! Blog