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Business executives killed in hotel fire

By RANDALL V. BERLAGE

HARRISON, N.Y. -- A flash fire during a demonstration of electronic equipment killed 26 people, some of them apparently business executives, meeting in a new suburban hotel-conference center Thursday.

Some directors of the Arrow Electronic Corp. of Greenwich, Conn. were believed to be among the dead, officials said.

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But there was no immediate official identification of victims.

At least 24 other people were confirmed injured in the fire, nine of them seriously. Most of the victims died of smoke inhalation; others burned to death.

The fire broke out at 10:20 a.m. in a two-level conference center adjacent to the four-story, 365-room Stouffer's Inn of Westchester, located northeast of New York City.

Harrison Town Supervisor John Passidomo said fire officials believe an electrical malfunction caused a 'fireball' during a demonstration of new electronic equipment by Arrow Electronic for its board of directors.

Officials said some of the directors of Arrow apparently were killed at the meeting, but there was no confirmation of the deaths, or identification of victims.

Purchase Fire Chief Robert Makowski said the conference center was gutted; damage to the adjoining hotel was relatively slight.

A spokesman for Arrow denied the company's equipment either caused or contributed in any way to the fire.

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County Police Commissioner Thomas Delaney said the exact cause would not be known for several days.

Executives of several other firms, including General Foods Corp. and Nestles Co., also were meeting at the hotel when the fire broke out.

It was not immediately clear if any employees of these firms were killed or injured in the fire.

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