Fire Marshals Determine Incense was Cause of Fire in Queens where Firefighter William N. Tolley Died -
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced that Fire Marshals have determined that incense left burning unattended in the bedroom of a second floor apartment in Queens caused the fire where Firefighter William N. Tolley died yesterday.
Residents of the fire apartment were not present at the time of the fire, but had left incense burning in observance of a religious practice in the home.
“Compounding the tragic loss of Firefighter Tolley’s life is that the fire he responded to and fought bravely could have been prevented,” said Fire Commissioner Nigro. “You should not leave objects such as incense or candles burning while unattended, and I urge all New Yorkers to follow these safety rules to prevent a tragedy in the home.”
Marshals also determined there were no working smoke alarms in the apartment, causing a delay in discovery of the fire. Neighbors who smelled smoke from the fire called 911 at about 2 p.m. to report the fire, which occurred in a five-story apartment building at 1615 Putnam Avenue in Ridgewood.
The FDNY’s Safety Command, with assistance from Fire Marshals, is investigating the death of Firefighter Tolley. The comprehensive investigation is ongoing and will include interviews of members operating on scene; radio transmissions by fire personnel on scene captured on audio recorders; any surveillance video or photographs of the incident, as well as any eyewitness accounts; and assessment of Ladder 135’s apparatus for any operational or equipment issues.