TOWN OF WALLKILL – A fire official late Tuesday said careless smoking may have been the cause of a fire that damaged 15 apartments at the Crestwood Apartment complex on Fitzgerald Drive in the Town of Wallkill. First Assistant Silver Lake Chief Richard Manley said about a dozen fire departments from the area fought the flames, which shot out apartment windows.
All of the occupants were able to get out of the building on their own power.
The blaze broke out just before 1 a.m. and raged for the rest of the night. Some 20 to 30 people were displaced. A total of roughly 50 people were evacuated from the burning building as well as nearly apartment buildings because of the danger of flames spreading.
Police Chief Robert Hertman had nothing but praise for all who responded.
“I must point out that but for the courageous actions of the first officers who were on the scene and assisted with the evacuation of the building and the firefighters who subsequently distinguished the fire, as devastating as this fire was, it could have been much worse,” Hertman said.
Five people were injured included two who are in critical condition at Orange Regional Medical Center. Gina Marie Faricelli, 57, was in critical condition in the intensive care unit where she was being treated for burns and smoke inhalation. Tonya Picket, 62, was in the ICU in critical condition where she was being treated for smoke inhalation. Samuel Cuellarquevedo, 88, was in stable condition at ORMC where he was being treated for chest pains. Two other tenants, Kevin Sloan and Maria Cardenas, were both treated and released from ORMC after they were treated for minor injuries.
One of the male tenants was spotted hanging out of the second-floor window of his burning apartment and dropped to the ground, sustaining minor injuries. Cardenas, who is pregnant, was shaken but otherwise unhurt.
The building, one of eight in the 50-year-old complex, was condemned. Acting Building Inspector Frank Leva said an engineer will be on-site Wednesday to inspect the structure to determine the extent of damage.
Depew said he has contacted all of the other 30 apartment complexes in Wallkill to determine if they have vacant apartments for the displaced people.
He also spoke with the representative of Crestwood, asking him to return security money as well as rent paid in advance to assist those people who have lost everything in the fire.