A Northampton man is in stable condition at Stony Brook University Hospital after a fire ripped through his family’s one-story home just after midnight Thursday.
Tracey Fountaine had just got home from a shift working as an officer at Brookhaven National Lab when one of his daughters “smelled something funny.”
The man followed the burning smell to the laundry room, his wife Lyn said, where a fire that would gut his wife’s childhood home at 19 Wildwood Trail was waiting for him.
“As soon as my husband opened the laundry room door, there was smoke and flames,” said Mrs. Fountaine.
Southampton Police received a call at 12:27 a.m. reporting the fire, which eventually required the aid of Flanders, Riverhead, Jamesport, Eastport and Wading River Fire Departments, as well as Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance.
“They got out with only the shirts on their backs, and the father, he didn’t even have that,” said an officer at the scene.
The charred, coiled remnants of a burnt-up couch sat the front lawn, covered in ash and other debris later Thursday morning.
Because of the inside floors had collapsed, firefighters were forced to attack the home from its exterior, cutting holes in the roof and sides of the home to gain access to individual rooms.
Emergency responders were on scene until 4:30 a.m. after taking three hours to knock down the blaze, officials said.
Mr. and Mrs. Fountaine, as well as their three daughters and their dog China — a pitbull sharpei — were all in the home at the time of the fire. Mr. Fountaine was the only one hospitalized after the incident, being treated at Stony Brook University Hospital’s burn unit.
He suffered burns on his face and shoulder, said Riverhead Fire Chief Joe Raynor.
Calls had been made to Red Cross to make an attempt to accommodate the family.
Family members said China will be staying with a neighbor.
One nearby resident — who declined to give her name — said at first she thought the noise outside her home were kids playing in the street.
“But then I looked out my window and saw the flames. Then I heard someone screaming and running down the street,” she said.
At least one neighbor attempted to put the fire out before firefighters arrived at the scene, police said. A garden hose was still rolled out to the yard’s curb Thursday morning as a fire marshal surveyed the scene.
Southampton Town Fire Marshal John Rankin said that the exact cause of the fire is under investigation, though it was believed that it originated in the basement. Due to floor collapses inside of the home during the blaze, firefighters could not make their way inside the home, but rather had to attack it from the exterior.
“It took hold of the building pretty well,” he said.
The family’s powder blue Nissan sedan and white Chevy Equinox, which had been parked close to the home sustained damage from the heat and flames.
“When firefighters arrived on the scene, the house was already engulfed in flames,” Chief Raynor said on Thursday morning. ”There was extensive damage. I believe it’s a total loss.”
Empty water bottles scattered the front yard, used by volunteers while they fought the early morning fire.
*An earlier version of this story misspelled the family’s last name.
With Paul Squire
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