GREENWICH — The cause of Thursday night’s house fire that disrupted a political fundraiser in Belle Haven was being investigated by the town Fire Marshal’s office Friday.
Greenwich Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kick said the blaze was initially listed as a chimney fire. Firefighters were able to minimize significant damage to the home by containing the fire to the basement and first floors. There was smoke damage throughout the structure, however.
The first fire alarm was triggered at 7:38 p.m. Heavy smoke was seen throughout the three-story home on Field Point Circle, but everyone attending the event was safely evacuated.
Kick said on Friday there were no preliminary findings in the investigation and it would probably last into next week.
“I think it’s a pretty standard fire but we’re not going to speculate right now,” Kick said.
About 75 people were at the event, to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Obsitnik.
“We’re very lucky that no one was injured,” said Tracy Schietinger, executive director of the Greenwich Emergency Medical Service. She said there were no reports of smoke inhalation and no one required hospitalization.
According to the town assessor’s office, the home belongs to Susan Bevan, national co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, a pro-choice GOP group.
“I feel horrible for the family,” Obsitnik said Thursday night, about an hour after he and guests were evacuated. “It’s times like these that make us realize there are more important things in life than politics.”
To fight the blaze, Kick said two hose lines were used in the structure while additional fire crews searched the home for any trapped occupants. None were found and all were accounted for.
On Friday morning, Obsitnik, a Westport businessman, issued a further statement, saying, “A number of people sprang into action quickly last night. A good team came together to get everyone out safely. I wanted to thank the Greenwich firefighters and emergency responders for their prompt action. My thoughts remain with the host family.”
Fire officials said the 9,000-square- foot home is 115 years old.
According to guests at the event, Obsitnik was about halfway through a question and answer session when people began to smell and see smoke. Former Selectman Peter Crumbine and his wife Bea, who is the town’s cultural ambassador, were among the attendees. He said they never saw flames and all was handled in a calm and orderly fashion.
“There wasn’t any pushing or shoving,” Crumbine said. “It was quite calm and everyone got out without any problem. We were standing around the front porch and five or six fire trucks were there within minutes. It was a little more excitement than we had hoped for but everyone was OK.”
Bea Crumbine credited Bevan and the staff for getting everyone out safely. She said guests were handed their coats as they left so they would be able to stay warm in the cold night air.
An attempt to reach Blevens was unsuccessful.
Greenwich resident Ed Dadakis, another attendee, said no one felt their lives were in any danger. He praised the work of the Greenwich Fire Department for its quick and effective response.
“Someone came in and said very calmly that we needed to leave,” Dadakis said. “Everyone looked at each other a little incredulously at first, but then we looked over into the living room and suddenly smoke was pouring in.”
Kick said about 50 personnel responded to the fire, in five fire engines, two ladder trucks and staff and support vehicles. He said the scene was cleared by the Fire Department at 11:36 p.m.