A fire that broke out at the Chappaqua, New York home of failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton turned out to be a short in the bathroom fan of a building used by the Secret Service.
The incident, however, is exposing the Clintons’ history of ignoring local building ordinances and raises questions about whether the couple enjoys a special status in the community.
New Castle Town Supervisor Robert Greenstein told LoHud.com that “apparently a bathroom fan shorted out” and sparked a fire at the Clintons’ compound on Old House Lane last Wednesday.
Officials with the Chappaqua Fire Department declined to comment about the ordeal, but the Secret Service confirmed the fire burned a hole in the bathroom ceiling of a building used by the agents that was not connected to the main residence.
The fire, which was on the second floor, was put out with fire extinguishers shortly after it was reported around 2:40 p.m., though the Clintons were reportedly not home during the blaze.
It’s unclear exactly which building burned, but LoHud.com reports the Clintons own both 15 Old House Lane, a five-bedroom home they bought for $1.7 million in 1999, as well as 33 Old House Lane, which they purchased in August 2016 for $1.16 million.
Two months after the Clintons purchased the neighboring property, the news site reported in 2016, a local building inspector busted contractors conducting extensive work on the site without the necessary permits.
Building inspector William Maskiell told LoHud.com he visited 33 Old House Lane on Oct. 5 after receiving a complaint about excavation and found workers filling in an old swimming pool and renovating the kitchen and electrical system without gaining approval from local government.
“During conversation I was told that the owners wanted to have all work done and finished by Thanksgiving and were quite adamant about it and what had started as a paint job turned into this,” Maskiell wrote in his Oct. 17 report.
Maskiell told the news site that contractors typically secure permits, but it’s ultimately the home owner’s responsibility to ensure they do.
“The homeowners have to sign the applications because it’s their property,” he said. “If you own the house, you’re responsible on everything that goes on with that house.”
Maskiell said the Clintons needed a demolition permit for the pool, a permit for the home renovations, and paperwork to ensure the back fill for the pool is not contaminated. He said the Clintons’ main home next door was also found to be lacking proper permits for electrical work in a library/gym, the home’s sprinkler system, as well as special variances for a guard house and extra-tall fence on site.
The guard house and extra-tall fence are special measures to ensure Clinton’s privacy and safety in addition to special vehicular laws crafted specifically for the former first family and their neighbors.
New Castle police officials designated Old House Lane and Green Street as “local-traffic-only” streets during the summer of 2016, when police also erected barriers near the home.
New Castle attorney Edward Phillips told LoHud at the time that the change spawned “from new security measures implemented at the end of Old House Lane near the Clintons’ home.”
“Those measures have created new limitations on vehicular movements on Old House Lane, and the local law was deemed necessary from a safety and security standpoint,” Phillips said. “The local law is also intended to address the privacy and quality of life concerns of other homeowners who reside on Old House Lane.”
It’s unclear whether the fan that caught fire last week was part of the original home, or whether it was installed without permits as much of the other renovations.