Timelines 11/2/13

Illegal housing unit fire injures girl, forces evacuation of illegal school
A single family home caught fire last Wednesday, injuring a 13 year old girl who was in the home alone at the time and forcing the evacuation of an illegal yeshiva next door. The fire started when an iron was left hot on the second-floor of the Highview Road building. When the flames grew too large, Talmud Torah Ohr Yochanan next door was evacuated, with almost 150 students moved out of the building before being bused home. The girl was brought to Good Samaritan Hospital for smoke inhalation. Rockland Illegal Housing Task Force Chairman John Kryger strongly criticized the school’s continued operation, stating its lack of smoke detectors and other setups throughout Ramapo pose serious hazards to students. Building Inspector Anthony Mallia explained the school could face penalties for safety violations. The yeshiva has faced legal challenges before. Though it has been cited by the town for safety violations and challenged by neighbors in state Supreme Court, it continues to pursue tax exempt status and operates largely without town interference.

Gambling interests deposit thousands into pro-gambling campaign committees
Gambling advocates have been supporting the industry’s continued push for legal expansion in New York with a campaign committee which has raked in almost $500 million in contributions from a variety of moneyed interests. The committee, dubbed New York Jobs Now, has been running ads and conducting outreach supporting Proposition 1, a proposal to allow seven off-reservation casinos in New York State. It has already received hefty contributions from the Yonkers Raceway ($250,000), Tioga Downs’ company American Racing & Entertainment ($125,000), Nevele Investors Inc. ($50,000) and the Oneida Nation ($50,000). Also included in the coalition of gambling supporters are a collection of unions interested in the jobs casinos will bring and the New York State Business Council.

Brushfires rip across Torne Mountain
A series of brushfires ignited along the south side of Torne Mountain on Tuesday prompted a response from local fire personnel and West Point. The Mountain, which is a part of Harriman State Park, was reported by New York State Parks on Monday. The Hillburn Fire Department acted as lead, directing nearby fire crews from Sloatsburg, Mahwah, Monsey and Tallman as they put out the blaze. Air support also came from helicopters sent from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which surveyed the fire and scooped up water from nearby Potake Lake to douse the flames. The fire was extinguished by 4 p.m., but the top of the mountain where the fire occurred was left blackened and barren. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Smoking on hospital grounds officially banned statewide
Smoking on the grounds of hospitals and residential healthcare facilities is now officially prohibited thanks to a law co-sponsored by State Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee. The bill, which went into effect on October 29, bans smoking outdoors on hospital grounds and within 15 feet of the entrances and exits for both the grounds and the buildings themselves. Residential healthcare facilities may still provide designated outdoor spaces for smokers. A slew of recent legislation has curbed the practice of smoking near hospitals and residential care facilities. More than 100 hospitals statewide already adopted voluntary policies and New York City enacted a bill banning the practice in 2009.

More than 250 gas stations install generators in case of emergency
Governor Cuomo recently announced the Fuel NY and Emergency Gasoline Network programs this week, which aim to preserve access to fuel supplies in case of emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy. The Fuel NY initiative sets strong standards for gas stations, ensuring that more than half of all state gas stations have the capacity to continue operations in case of power failures, particularly stations near critical locations such as highway exits or along hurricane evacuation routes. More than 250 gas stations have already made moves to improve their resiliency by installing backup power for fuel pumps. Smaller gas stations may be subject to exemptions. Additionally, the Emergency Gasoline Network will allow customers to look at an online map of stations with backup power capacity. The Network is available through Fuel NY’s website.

Natural gas service interrupted in Sloatsburg
A 2 inch gas main break disrupted natural gas service to 30 homes in Sloatsburg on Wednesday afternoon when a contractor accidentally damaged the line. The Main was struck by the contractor at around 2 p.m. and shut down about a half hour later by Sloatsurg firefighters working together with Orange & Rockland workers. The team had to shut down the primary gas valve, blocking gas from 29 homes on Grant Street and one on Washington Avenue. O&R reported that it was sending more workers to restore gas service in the area. Individual gas services will be restored one home at a time.

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