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Local News

March 27, 2014

Investigators eye circuit box in hotel fire

The fire that destroyed the historic seven-story Rexmere building in Stamford on Tuesday is believed to have started directly above the building’s circuit breaker box on the first floor, an official said Wednesday.

Second Assistant Fire Chief Joe Hornbeck said his fire department, county and state cause-and-origin teams, fire investigation teams and state troopers worked at the scene from 8 a.m. until about 4 p.m. Wednesday. Hornbeck said the cause of the fire is still under investigation and that he was not at liberty to say whether arson could be ruled out.

However, state troopers’ K9 dogs, which have been trained to sniff out fire accelerants such as gasoline or kerosene, have not found any evidence that would point to arson, a source close to the investigation said Wednesday.

Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond confirmed on Wednesday that the point of origin of the blaze was above the circuit breaker box but said he could not give any more details because the investigation is ongoing.

DuMond said the caretaker who was staying in the Rexmere lived in an apartment on the opposite side of the building from where the fire started. The caretaker’s name is Donald Brown, but no contact information could be found for him. Several village officials, including Stamford’s Village Mayor, Joan Hinman, said they had been unaware that anyone was living there. Brown and his family were not home at the time the fire broke out, DuMond said.

Stamford’s Second Assistant Fire Chief, Joe Hornbeck, said members of the Stamford Fire Department are exhausted after working more than 24 hours at the site of the former Rexmere hotel, which was reduced to rubble after the ferocious fire rapidly tore through the massive wooden structure.

Hornbeck said the department finally cleared the scene at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, but returned at approximately 5 a.m. for a rekindle. There were two rekindles during the night, he said.

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