04/19/13 11:32pm
04/19/2013 11:32 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Firefighters put out a house fire in Jamesport Friday night.

Jamesport Fire Department volunteers quickly put out house fire on Lockitt Drive that started while the occupants of the home were away Friday night.

“We had gone out and when we got back home, we heard the fire alarms and saw the smoke,” said Dieter Schwarz, who lives at the home with his wife, Laurie, and step-daughter Amanda.

“We called 911 and then we started getting our animals out,” he said.

The animals rescued were a dog, three cats, three birds and four turtles.

Mr. Schwarz said the home was filled with smoke when they opened the doors. They noticed the fire at about 8:45 p.m, he said.

Jamesport fire chief Duffy Griffiths said about 50 volunteer firefighters responded with help from the Mattituck Fire Department, which was on standby at the scene. The Riverhead Fire Department sent a rapid response team of veteran firefighters trained to rescue firefighters who may run into difficulty fighting the flames.

“We knocked it down real quick,” chief Griffiths said.

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance also was on the scene, although no one was injured and all of the animals were accounted for.

Mr. Schwarz said they breathed in smoke while looking for the animals but were OK.

The fire started in the back wall of the building, although the cause had yet to be determined, chief Griffiths said.

Mr. Schwarz said it appears to have started near a basement dryer, although he said the dryer wasn’t on while they were away.

Riverhead fire marshal Dave Andruszkiewicz is investigating the fire’s cause.


TIM GANNON PHOTO | Firefighters put out a house fire in Jamesport Friday night.

02/11/13 1:00pm
02/11/2013 1:00 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A Wading River Fire Department heavy rescue crew works at the scene of a car accident last year.

Like their neighbors in Riverhead, the Wading River Fire Department and EMS teams reported their busiest year yet in 2012, officials said.

But while last year’s wildfires in Manorville and Hurricane Sandy likely played a role in keeping firefighters busy, Fire Chief Jim Evans said the shift in numbers represents a new normal for Wading River.

“It’s just a sign of the times,” Mr. Evans said. “We’re always being pulled in another direction.”

The Wading River Fire Department responded to 271 calls in 2012, according to department records, up from 262 in 2011. The department had another 35 miscellaneous calls that weren’t reported on the year-end statistics since those were mutual aid calls, mostly related to the wildfires and other some emergencies, Mr. Evans said.

Automatic alarms, electrical and wire emergencies and smoke investigations all rose in 2012, though vehicle fires and outdoor fire calls dropped slightly, the report states.

Structure fire calls were nearly halved from 43 in 2011 to 27 in 2012, yet overall alarms were still up.

The Wading River EMS teams also reported a spike in calls last year, up by about 7 percent from 735 calls in 2011 to 784 calls in 2012, according to the report.

Mr. Evans said 2013 is currently on track to beat last year’s totals.

“We had our busiest January ever, so we’re still going,” he said last week, before the Friday into Saturday nor’easter hit.

Mr. Evans later said the fire department responded about 20 emergencies during the blizzard, and dug a half dozen stranded people from their cars on local roads the night of the storm.

Firefighters used brush trucks to get through the snow drifts as they checked on the abandoned cars to make sure no one was trapped inside, Mr. Evans said, but even those trucks were becoming stuck in the snow.

“This is pretty much unprecedented in terms of the roads,” he said. ”We all need a break now.”

Those looking to join the Wading River Fire Department can fill out an application at the department’s headquarters on North Country Road.

For a detailed breakdown of last year’s fire department and ambulance calls, see the infographic below:

01/21/13 11:50am
01/21/2013 11:50 AM
Calverton, Fire, Riverhead Fire Department, Wading River

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The burned house was already boarded up Monday morning.

Chris was outside with his mother near their Twomey Avenue home Sunday afternoon when he first smelled smoke. He went inside to rest for a minute or two, then smelled smoke again.

He soon found out his front porch was on fire.

Calverton House fire, Riverhead Fire Department

RIVERHEAD FD COURTESY PHOTO | The Twomey Avenue house when it was fully engulfed.

“I opened up [the door to] the porch and it was up in flames,” said Chris, who did not want his last name published.

He and his mother escaped the ensuing blaze unharmed, but the fire spread quickly and the house nearly burned to the ground.

“It’s just devastating,” Chris said quietly while standing outside the ruins Monday morning. “You don’t think it’ll happen to you, but then it does.”

Riverhead Fire Department officials said they arrived on scene about 4:30 p.m. and found the two-story house fully engulfed. Firefighters from Riverhead, Jamesport, Flanders, and Wading River Fire Departments fought the blaze for about 45 minutes until it was brought under control, officials said.

Riverhead firefighters then returned to the scene Monday morning after warm embers in the burned house began to burn again. They quickly doused the sparking fire, fire officials said.

Chris said he’s lived at the house with his partner, Steven, and his mother since 2009 when they moved to Calverton from western Suffolk County.

They managed to escape with some of their pets, but the family lost pet birds in the fire. A black cat is still missing.

Chris said he and his partner had recently renovated the interior of the house and put a lot of “time, energy, and money” into several projects. But now the house and everything that was inside are lost.

Chris and his partner are now staying at a nearby hotel, while Chris’s mother is staying with friends while neighbors care for the family’s dogs.

An online fundraiser was set up this week by a family member to help raise money for the victims.

The victims said they are thankful for the offers of support from many in the community, but for the moment are just focusing on getting their affairs in order.

They need to get new cell phones, replace drivers licenses that were lost in the blaze, and talk to their insurance company to see if they can rebuild the house, Chris said.

“Hopefully, they cover this,” he said, glancing at the remains of his house.

The cause of the initial fire is still under investigation, according to the Riverhead Fire Marshal’s office.











09/19/12 3:19pm
09/19/2012 3:19 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Residents of the apartment complex look on as fire officials and police investigate an attic fire Wednesday afternoon.

Riverhead firefighters put out an apartment fire that spread from a bathroom into the attic of an apartment building on Doctor’s Path Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

Firefighters received the call about the fire around 2 p.m., after a relative of the tenant discovered smoke pouring out of the roof vents, the tenant said. The tenant, who did not give her name, said she was working at East End Cardiology when she heard about the fire. No one was in the apartment when the fire started, she said.

The fire began in the bathroom, and spread into the attic of the building, which houses several apartments, said Riverhead Fire Chief Anthony White. Pale smoke could be seen blowing out of the vents near the roof as firefighters doused the attic.

The cause of the fire had not officially been determined, though the tenant and authorities said the fire appears to have been started when the ceiling fan in the bathroom caught fire and ignited the insulation above. No one was injured in the incident.

The Riverhead Fire Marshall arrived on the scene to investigate later in the afternoon. It was not immediately clear if the tenant would be able to return to her apartment.

08/30/12 2:37pm
08/30/2012 2:37 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Firefighters in a brush truck spray down a small brush fire in Aquebogue Thursday afternoon.

Riverhead firefighters used hoses and a brush truck to douse a fire that sparked in a field near Reeves Creek in Aquebogue Thursday afternoon.

The fire began in a high grassy area just south of Peconic Bay Boulevard about 1:40 p.m., said third assistant chief Pete Jackman.

Firefighters arrived on scene with an engine and used a hose to put out the fire. A brush truck —  a specialized vehicle used to access areas off roadways — drove into the brush as a precaution and drenched the area with water to completely extinguish the blaze.

The cause of the fire has not been determined yet, said Riverhead Fire Department Chief Anthony White.


07/17/12 11:00am
07/17/2012 11:00 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Firefighters made quick work of a car fire south of Pulaski Street in Polish Town early Tuesday morning.

Riverhead firefighters quickly put out a small blaze that engulfed a sedan behind a Polish Town home early Tuesday morning.

No one was was hurt during the fire, officials said.

The fire department received the call for a vehicle fire on Hamilton Avenue at 3:32 a.m. The first fire chiefs arrived on the scene two minutes later.

A fire department volunteer at the scene said the car, which was parked behind a residence south of Pulaski Street was “flaming up pretty good” when firefighters first got to the scene. Firefighters had the fire under control by 4 a.m. while Riverhead police officers blocked off the road between Pulaski and Lincoln Streets.

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Riverhead Fire Department chief Anthony White said the car was unoccupied when the fire started, adding that the cause of the fire has yet to be determined.


04/18/12 3:55pm
04/18/2012 3:55 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The inside of a burnt out 2001 Ford Focus that caught fire Wednesday afternoon in Calverton.

A Mattituck man and his passenger escaped from a car fire Wednesday afternoon in Calverton.

The driver, Atif Bashir, said he was heading home from Medford when his 2001 Ford Focus “started dying” after he smelled antifreeze.

“A friend of mine popped the hood and it was in flames,” Mr. Bashir said. “It was like one, two, three and it was gone.”

Riverhead Fire Department officials said the car fire occurred at about 2:16 p.m. on Edwards Avenue, just north of Riley Avenue, in Calverton.

No injuries were reported.

The Riverhead Fire Department responded to the car fire and extinguished the blaze by 2:45 p.m. Edwards Avenue was re-opened 15 minutes later.

Fire officials said the fire doesn’t appear to be suspicious.