Update: Mess hall destroyed, firefighter hurts shoulder in Boy Scouts camp blaze

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11/01/2011 5:23 PM |

MELANIE DROZD PHOTO | Smoke from the Wading River campgrounds fire.

A 5,000-square-foot mess hall at a Wading River Boy Scouts camp was completely destroyed by a fast-moving blaze that sent black smoke billowing high into a blue sky over the pine barrens Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Fire departments from Wading River and neighboring communities battled not only the smoke and fire, but a lack of readily available water, officials said.

One firefighter was treated at an area hospital after injuring his shoulder.

“Getting a water source was a challenge because there are no fire hydrants,” said Wading River Fire Department chief Eric Cohen, adding the Manorville Fire Department acted as a “water shuttle” by providing a portable pool of water.

The method is commonly used to put out wild fires, he said.

It took firefighters about an hour to bring the fire, which sparked after 4 p.m. at Camp Wauwepex off Wading River Manor Road, under control.

Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Ridge, Riverhead and Jamesport fire departments, as well as the Shirley Ambulance Rehab Unit, also arrived on the scene.

Chief Cohen said the dining hall was unoccupied at the time of the fire and believed the campground was only occupied by a park ranger.

“I’m not sure if  he was aware of the fire because we arrived on the scene after receiving reports of heavy smoke,” he said of the ranger.

The fire is under investigation by Riverhead Town and Suffolk County fire marshals.

“The firefighters did a good job, once again,” Chief Cohen said.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Fire trucks entering the camp Tuesday.