Carmel fire exclusive: Thomas Sullivan Jr. accidentally sparked fire that killed his family

By Shawn Cohen and Terence Corcoran

CARMEL— A lit cigarette flicked by Thomas Sullivan Jr. accidentally sparked the fire that killed his parents and his two sisters, a source close to the investigation told The Journal News exclusively.

Carmel police said the fire was not intentionally set. They are expected to announce the cause of the May 1 fire at a 4 p.m. press conference.

Thomas Sullivan Sr., 48, his wife, Donna, 47, and their daughters, Meaghan, 17, and Mairead, 15, died in the fast-moving fire at their 19 Wyndham Lane home. The lone survivor, Thomas Sullivan Jr., 20, told police and relatives that he was roused by his father, who perished when he went back inside the burning building in a valiant effort to save his wife and daughters.

Thomas Sullivan Sr. was a respected captain in the Larchmont Police Department and a beloved member of the Carmel community, where he volunteered in his children’s youth sports leagues. Meaghan was set to graduate later this month with her fellow seniors at Carmel High School, where Mairead was also a student.

Carmel police detectives and Putnam County Sheriff’s investigators worked alongside members of the Putnam County Fire Investigation Team in determining the cause of the fatal blaze.

Read the complete report here.

Jorge Fitz-Gibbon

Jorge Fitz-Gibbon’s career as a journalist has spanned 23 years, including stints at The New York Daily News and The Journal News. He is the father of an 11-year-old boy, and has been a single dad for seven of those years, recently working on building a blended family. He blogs for LoHud.com on parenting and music, drawing on his passion for both. Both come together in his life as well: His son currently plays guitar and saxophone, while Jorge is a guitar player with Bud Metro and the Corrections, The Journal News’ on-again, off-again newsroom band. Not surprisingly, Jorge’s love for classic rock and metal has rubbed off on his son, whose debut performance at a school talent show was Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” Now they’re working on Led Zeppelin and keeping his grades up in school.