DeCicco's Market, Kohl's spared from huge damage
Quick response by firefighters Monday afternoon to the Highlands Shopping Plaza in Southeast averted a calamity when a pile of mulch apparently ignited by a tossed cigarette started a blaze between DeCicco's Market and Kohl's Department Store.
The fire spread beneath a foundation block attaching the two stores. Officials said when constructed the block failed to touch the ground, and as a result flames were able to climb an interior wooden wall connecting the two buildings.
Putnam Deputy Emergency Coordinator Ken Clair said that had the fire erupted at 3 a.m. instead of 3 p.m. "the blaze would have gone from the ground to the roof in a matter of minutes with horrific results."
Clair said fires always follow the "easiest path which in this case was between the two cinder block walls consisting of a 2 foot by 10 foot piece of lumber along with plywood."
Firefighters from Brewster under the command of Assistant Chief William Reig were first to arrive, and when smoke was observed inside the building as well as coming out the front corner of the attached brick structure, calls went out for mutual aid. Carmel, Lake Carmel, Putnam Lake, Croton Falls and Mahopac sent crews and equipment to the scene.
Chris DeCicco, proprietor of the popular grocery store, thanked the firefighters. "These guys did a great job. They were extremely helpful and got here in record time. My family and I appreciate it as do our many customers."
Both stores reopened later Monday afternoon.
Assisting at the scene were Deputy Emergency Coordinators Cris Dellaripa, Jeff Boyle, Brewster State Police, the Putnam Fire Investigation Team and a representative of the Putnam Bureau of Emergency Services.