Fire officials probe if Spring Valley home that caught fire was illegally divided
Fire inspectors are looking into whether a Spring Valley home that caught fire Tuesday had been illegally divided.
Hillcrest fire officials say flames broke out on East Willow Tree Road around 2 a.m.
They say not only was the rear of the building engulfed in flames, but so was the inside of the first and second floors. Fire officials believe the fire started outside on the back deck.
Officials confirm the home was divided into three separate living spaces but it's unclear if it was done legally.
The Hillcrest Fire Company No. 1 acting chief tells News 12 he can't speculate as he waits on the final incident reports from the village fire inspector and Rockland County Sheriff's Office.
Fire officials say it's more difficult for firefighters when homes have code violations.
That's why Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick and other legislators just passed two sets of bills aimed at strengthening fire safety and prevention measures.
"Bad landlords out there will recognize that if they're caught violating these laws, if they're caught illegally converting their buildings in a way that's going to risk a firefighter's life, they're going to face substantial penalties," says Reichlin-Melnick.
The bills would update fire prevention and building codes more frequently, steepen fines for repeat code offenders, and change the requirement for space heaters.
New York state surpasses the national average for fire-related injuries and deaths, according to state Senate Democrats.