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Carmel Family Killed In Tragic Fire Remembered At Funeral

Mourners embrace at the family's wake. (Credit: CBS 2)

Mourners embrace at the family’s wake. (Credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Hundreds of mourners were on hand on Saturday morning to lay four family members killed earlier this week in a vicious fire in Putnam County to rest.

The funeral started at 9 a.m. at St. James the Apostle church in Carmel. A huge American flag hung over the church, and police offers from Larchmont stood at attention outside along with officers from the NYPD, where Larchmont Police Captain Thomas Sullivan worked for many years.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

At wakes earlier this week, mourners shed tears and shared memories.

“It’s the toughest thing ever,” mourner Geri Munnick told CBS 2. “I’ve been to tons of wakes and funerals, and I’m at the point now where I’m speechless.”

At the family’s wakes on Thursday and Friday, mourners tried to come to grips with the senseless deaths of Thomas Sullivan, his wife, Donna, and their two daughters, 18-year-old Meaghan and 15-year-old Mairead.

“Donna was a wonderful, wonderful mother,” Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “The girls were just very full of joy, very close. Young Tommy loved his sisters very much.”

The four died early on Tuesday morning when a fast-moving fire tore through their home in Carmel. Only 20-year-old Tom Sullivan Jr. escaped the fire after being woken by his father, who then tried to get everyone else to safety.

“We all feel sick about it,” Larchmont resident Jodie Kahn said. “I mean, their whole family and then their son?”

“He was an avid sports fan — he loved the Mets — and he was a family man,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria at the funeral. “He was about family and work, and everything else fell in line.”

Outside the funeral home, Captain Sullivan’s father, John, accepted condolences during the family’s wake on Thursday.

Friends who knew the daughters spoke through tears remembering them.

“She was a really good friend of mine,” Christine Zetik said, “and I’ve never had a friend die.”

Even as they try to pin down the cause of the fire, the construction style that became common during the housing boom of the 1990s is being blamed for the speed and ferocity of the blaze.

“All the work and construction is up to par,” Carmel Fire Chief Robert Lipton said. “It’s all that’s required these days, but it just doesn’t give families the time to get out and escape a fire.”

Investigators believe the fire started in the front of the home. They’ve removed samples from the site of the home, which is still being considered a crime scene, and they say those results should be back early this coming week.

Tommy Jr. entered the church on Saturday with his grandparents and extended family.

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