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Fatal Fire Blamed on Faulty Heater

March 27, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ A faulty space heater may have caused the fire early Friday that killed a police officer, his wife and their infant son, officials said.

A preliminary investigation by the fire marshal’s office indicated the fire apparently broke out in a small gas heater in the basement and spread to the second floor where the bodies were found, said Fire Department spokesman John Mulligan.

Pelham Manor Officer Richard Knudsen, 26, was lying face down on a bed with his 6-month-old son, Richard Jr., in his arms, Mulligan said. His wife, Kim, 25, was on the floor near a window. They died from smoke inhalation and burns, the department said.

There were no smoke detectors in the two-story house in the Bronx, authorities said. One was not required for the building, said John Cassidy, another Fire Department spokesman.

Seven firefighters suffered minor injuries in the early-morning fire, which was brought under control in an hour, Mulligan said.

The wood-frame house, which sits opposite a compound for diplomats from the Soviet Union, was badly damaged in the blaze, the Fire Department said.

A police officer posted at the Soviet compound called police and reported people screaming and glass breaking in the house, police said.

Knudsen joined the Pelham Manor police force in September 1985. In January 1986, he received a commendation for his work in arresting two burglary suspects after a chase.

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