Candles caused fatal Poughkeepsie fire that killed 4, officials say

POUGHKEEPSIE, Dutchess County (WABC) -- A fire that killed four people in Poughkeepsie Monday likely started by candles, officials confirmed Thursday.

Four bodies were recovered after the fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. on Academy Street. The victims, three men and one woman, all died of smoke inhalation. They are believed to be homeless.

Arriving firefighters found heavy fire on the first and second floors. The building is said to be vacant for a number of years.

Authorities said it wasn't safe for the firefighters to enter the burning structure because it was unstable and sections had collapsed, and once the fire was under control, they were able to enter parts of the structure.

Besides the instability of the structure, officials say there was a massive hoarding situation from the previous owner, who passed away, that prevented firefighters from accessing certain areas of the building and also acted as kindling.

It also may have trapped some or all of the victims.

Poughkeepsie Fire Chief Mark Johnson said investigators recovered lighters and candle wax in the first-floor bathroom where the fire started.

The first victim was located at approximately 4 a.m., and the second was found soon after. The third and fourth victims were located in the rear of the structure, where there had been a partial collapse.

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