Three bodies have been recovered from the site of Tuesday's deadly fire in Carmel.
A New York State Police cadaver dog assisted in the search of the wreckage of the home of Larchmont Police Capt. Thomas Sullivan. The search is continuing for a fourth body still believed to be in the wreckage.
Police confirmed the body of Thomas Sullivan, 49, was found. His body was on a rear deck of the home and police believe Sullivan may have jumped from a second-story window. Investigators still have not determined the cause of the fire, which claimed the lives of Sullivan, his wife, Donna, 48, and two teenage daughters, Meaghan, 18, and Mairead, 13, both Carmel High School students.
Police said the search for the fourth body is expected to continue until at least 8 p.m. and then resume Wednesday morning, if needed.
At a press conference this afternoon, police said Sullivan's son, Thomas Sullivan, 20, ecaped the fire by crawling down a flight of stairs and getting out through the garage. Police said the son was awakened by his father, who was yelling that the house was on fire.
The son was taken to Danbury (CT) Hospital for treatment and was later released. Police said he is staying with friends.
Updated (2:15 p.m.): Fire investigators are conducting a grim search today at the wreckage of a Carmel home that collapsed after a massive blaze overnight, which is believed to have claimed the lives of a Larchmont police captain, his wife and teenage daughters.
Capt. Thomas Sullivan, 48, and his family members—wife Donna, 47, and daughters Meaghan and Mairead—are unaccounted for after a "rapid" fire engulfed their Carmel home. Firefighters said that within 10 minutes of their arrival at the home the structure collapsed, with none of the trapped family members able to get out.
The blaze was reportedly extinguished around 4:45 a.m. Officials say more than 50 firefighters from Brewster, Carmel, Lake Carmel and Mahopac responded. A couple of other departments were on standby.
Carmel Police Chief Mike Johnson initially would not confirm whether all four died in the fire, stressing that the 2 a.m. blaze at 19 Wyndham Lane is still under investigation. Reports from several news outlets list all four as deceased.
The investigation process could take weeks, Johnson said at a press conference this morning. Neither Johnson nor fire department officials would comment on a cause. Fire investigators from Putnam County and the State of New York, as well as detectives and an excavator, are working the scene, Johnson said.
Sullivan's son, Thomas Jr., a college student, reportedly escaped through the garage and was being treated Tuesday morning at an undisclosed hospital for smoke inhalation.
Carmel Fire Chief Bob Lipton said information about smoke alarms in the house was unknown Tuesday morning. for his description of the scene, and details on the number of responders who came out from across the area.
Larchmont police officials were in Putnam County this morning working in conjunction with local officials. Lt. Antonino Rigano described Sullivan as a well-liked police officer and family man.
"A great guy, devoted to his wife and kids," Rigano said this morning. "A great individual."
Rigano said the Larchmont Police Department was moving cautiously with spreading news about Sullivan to members of the department, waiting more information to develop from the investigation in Carmel.
According to the Larchmont Police Department Web site, Sullivan joined the New York City Police Department in January 1986 and moved to the Larchmont Police Department in August 1992. He became a sergeant in April 1996. In April 2001, he was promoted to Lieutenant and was soon promoted to the Captain. He was the department's executive officer. Sullivan graduated from Manhattan College with a bachelor's degree in Organizational Management.
News of the fire hit the police community hard today.
"I am very saddened on the tragic loss of Captain Sullivan, his wife and daughters," said Rye Brook Police Chief Gregory Austin. "Not only did I know Captain Sullivan professionally, I went to high school with his wife Donna. I feel horrible for their son and also for the members of the Larchmont Police Department. I know that he was well respected in not only in Larchmont but also in Carmel and I know how proud he and Donna were of their children."
that Sullivan "was always the first one there" when someone needed a favor. She recalled memories of her husband and Sullivan coaching sports years ago—and a joint trip to Cooperstown for a tournament. She called the tragedy a "tremendous loss to the community."
Odell said Sullivan's two teenage daughters "beautiful young women," and referred to his wife Donna was a "wonderful loving mother."
"I don't think that any of us have really, fully understood what has happened in the last few hours, but I can tell you that this community will wrap their arms around young Tommy and will make sure that he gets everything that he needs," she said.
According to Odell, Thomas Jr. was with his grandparents Tuesday morning.
Folks all over the area were shocked. Several people drove onto Carmel's Old Farm Road, which leads to Wyndham Drive, Tuesday afternoon. Some stopped their cars and walked up to the police line that blocked media and non-officials from entering the street, in an attempt to view the scene.
Carmel Central Schools Superintendent James M. Ryan posted the following statement on the district's website:
"Earlier today, we received the shocking news of a tragic house fire in Carmel that claimed the lives of two Carmel High School students, Meaghan (senior) and Mairead Sullivan (freshman) and their parents," he said. "Our school community is devastated, and we are working together in this very difficult time to offer support to students and staff. Our crisis teams are on hand around the district, and most especially at Carmel High School, to speak with students and families in our schools. We are all deeply saddened by this horrific tragedy. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Sullivan family."