03/13/13 1:42pm
03/13/2013 1:42 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | An East Moriches firefighter walks towards the scene of a deadly house fire Wednesday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | An East Moriches firefighter walks towards the scene of a deadly house fire in Manorville Wednesday morning.

Riverhead firefighters helped put out a Manorville house fire after which one woman and a dog were found dead and a man was taken to an area hospital Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The Manorville Fire Department first received a call about 9:30 a.m. for a building on fire. The house, located at the end of a long driveway at 218 Eastport Manor Road, was in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene, said Suffolk County Fire Marshal Joe Kuethen.

Firefighters located a woman’s body inside the house during a search, he said. A dog was also found dead inside the home, police said.

A resident of the house, identified by police as 68-year-old Charles Woolsey was found outside the burning home, authorities said. Mr. Woolsey, who was unconcious, was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue for treatment of smoke inhalation, police said.

An update on Mr. Woolsey’s condition was not available.

The house had a message written across its roof, according to a Newsday report. Officials declined to comment on the writing.

Riverhead fire officials got the request for aid about 10:15 a.m., and sent to the fire scene, said Riverhead first assistant chief Joseph Raynor. Riverhead firefighters helped to douse any remaining fires on the property.

Riverhead firefighters were released from the scene at 1:20 p.m.

Firefighters and ambulance volunteers from the Eastport, Center Moriches, Westhampton Beach, East Moriches, and Quogue Fire Departments were also called to the fire.

Suffolk County police are investigating the fire, and both homicide and arson squads arrived on scene later in the afternoon to investigate due to the fatality. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Suffolk County Homicide Squad detectives at (631) 852-6392.


12/30/12 8:00am
12/30/2012 8:00 AM

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo shakes hands with a Ridge firefighter in Calverton April 10.

The largest Long Island wildfire in over a decade burned more than 1,000 acres of forest and property from Ridge to Calverton — with other, smaller fires breaking out in Flanders, Yaphank and elsewhere — during a prolonged dry spell in April.

The larger “Wildfire of 2012” damaged dozens of structures and forced evacuations in neighborhoods along Wading River Manor Road in Manorville. At its peak, a plume of smoke could be seen from much of Suffolk County and Connecticut.

Manorville firefighter Andrew Preli said the fire was like nothing he’s ever seen in his three years of volunteer service.

“I’ve been on a bunch of brush fires,” he said. “Nothing this crazy, nothing this big. It sounded like a train coming through.

“Everywhere I looked something was on fire.”

Firefighters from more than 100 departments across Suffolk and Nassau counties spent over two days bringing the flames under control. One Manorville volunteer, William Hille, 35, suffered severe burns to his face after he and two colleagues had to abandon a brush truck that caught fire in the woods.

The truck was destroyed.

All responders were later honored with a “firefighter appreciation festival” at the Brookhaven Amphitheater, which featured free concerts for volunteers and their families.

Investigators later determined the fire was intentionally set on undeveloped property at the Brookhaven National Laboratory site.

Suffolk County police are offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.


10/21/12 12:26pm
10/21/2012 12:26 PM

A Coram man’s blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit when he was pulled over heading east near exit 69 of the Long Island Expressway in Manorville early Sunday morning, the Suffolk County Sheriffs’ office said.

Hamza Hussain, 25, was arrested by deputy sheriffs on a charge of aggravated DWI after he was observed swerving and pulled over, sheriffs said.

The defendant submitted to a breath test resulting in a .20 percent blood alcohol content, sheriffs said.

08/09/12 4:00am
08/09/2012 4:00 AM

Some things make too much sense not to be pursued.

Manorville resident Clare Bennett’s request this week to have Manorville ambulances instead of Riverhead ambulances respond to calls on her Oakwood Drive block and the immediate neighborhood is one of them.

Such a change would affect about 60 families that live at the edge of town and find themselves in the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance district, even though they’re much closer to Manorville Community Ambulance headquarters. And we’re talking light-years closer, considering what’s at stake.

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance headquarters on Osborn Avenue is 10.2 miles from Oakwood Drive, while the Manorville ambulance headquarters on South Street is 3.75 miles from Oakwood. It’s actually surprising it’s taken this long for folks in these communities to speak out.

Ms. Bennett begged Riverhead Town Board members for help Tuesday, saying that she had to wait quite a while (40 minutes, a number Riverhead ambulance officials found hard to fathom) for an ambulance to arrive at her home for three separate medical emergencies in recent years. Each time she had to wait, even while knowing a row of shiny Manorville Community Ambulance vehicles stood ready just a few minutes away.

The situation is unacceptable. But because Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance is funded by a tax base that’s entirely in Riverhead Town and Manorville Community Ambulance is funded by a tax base that’s entirely in Brookhaven Town, Supervisor Sean Walter explained to Ms. Bennett on Tuesday, the only way Manorville ambulances could be allowed to respond to a Riverhead Town address would be for Riverhead to contract with Manorville for ambulance services.

But he also said the board would do what it could to make that happen and that he personally would contact Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko to get the ball rolling.

So often, requests like these — residents’ imploring local officials to try to fix blatant problems with school, fire or other taxing districts — are dismissed as being impossible to achieve. So Mr. Walter’s response was encouraging.

Ms. Bennett also made it clear her request has nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the work of Riverhead volunteers. Riverhead ambulance officials should not take the Manorville resident’s request as a slight and, in response, try to jealously protect their “territory,” which is known to happen from time to time among proud emergency responders.

Should town officials in Riverhead and Brookhaven not act, Ms. Bennett vowed to circulate a petition among her neighbors, whom she said support her. This is a serious situation with a logical solution. It should not have to come to residents needing to petition en masse.

08/07/12 8:08pm
08/07/2012 8:08 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance vehicle parked in Riverhead earlier this summer.

Residents of Oakwood Drive in Manorville live in the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance district, but they’re much closer to the Manorville Community Ambulance.

That’s why some residents from that area are hoping to find a way to let Manorville ambulance respond to calls in that neighborhood.

Clare Bennett of Oakwood Drive asked the Riverhead Town Board on Tuesday to try to allow calls in her neighborhood to be handled by Manorville.

“I’m basically a healthy person but I have needed an ambulance three times in the last five years,” Ms. Bennett said.

The first two times, she said, the Riverhead ambulance took 40 minutes to get to her home, and the third time, when she had a heart issue, her husband got there from Hampton Bays before the ambulance arrived.

On another instance, “When my eight year old nephew needed an emergency appendectomy, he knew something was wrong, but he did not want to call an ambulance,” she said.

“The Manorville ambulance is three minutes away,” she said.

Ms. Bennett said she spoke with the Riverhead Police Department on the issue and was told that on the first two calls, the Riverhead ambulance got lost looking for her house due to a mistake on the e911 system, which showed her address as being on Oakwood Drive in Calverton.

There is an Oakwood Drive in Calverton, close to Long Island Sound, and its almost 10 miles from Oakwood Drive in Manorville.

The E911 system automatically displays the address of a caller for dispatchers without the caller needing to say anything. Historically, having two or more roads with the same name can be troublesome for the system.

Kim Pokorny, the president of the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance board of directors, said this is the first she’s heard of any problems getting to Manorville.

“The only thing I can think of is if the 911 call gets picked up Suffolk County Police E911, there could be a delay, because surely it doesn’t take 40 minutes for us to get there,” Ms. Pokorny said.

The problem with the E911 giving the Calverton address also could be a factor, she said.

Because the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance is funded by a tax base that’s entirely in Riverhead Town, and the Manorville Community Ambulance is funded by a tax base that’s entirely in Brookhaven Town, the only way Manorville ambulance could be allowed to respond to a Riverhead Town address would be for Riverhead to contract for services with Manorville in this neighborhood, according to Supervisor Sean Walter.

“We don’t have a problem doing that,” Mr. Walter told Ms. Bennett. “I think this board will do that.”

Councilman John Dunleavy said he is already working on that issue.

Mr. Walter said he will call Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesco to begin negotiations on the plan.

The supervisor said he’s unsure how to fix the problem with E911, however.

Ms. Bennett said there are 12 residents on Oakwood Drive in Manorville and 61 families in the immediate area with Manorville addresses in Riverhead Town.

She said her neighbors are ready to begin a petition drive.

According to Yahoo maps, the Riverhead ambulance headquarters on Osborn Avenue is 10.2 miles from Oakwood Drive in Manorville, while the Manorville ambulance headquarters on South Street is 3.75 miles from Oakwood Drive.

Ms. Bennett said she didn’t want to slight ambulance volunteers with her request.

“We’re very grateful to the men and women who do this,” she told the Town Board.

The Oakwood Drive neighborhood is the area that was hardest hit by the wildfire that spread through the Manorville and Calverton areas earlier this year. The area is just north of the Peconic River, which is the border between the two towns.


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04/12/12 8:30am
04/12/2012 8:30 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Irish, with Catrina Tedesco, who walked the horse from Annie's Acres stables in Manorville to EPCAL.

“I went in there and it was chaos,” said “Big John” Savastano of Manorville, describing the scene at the Annie’s Acres horse stable on Wading River Manor Road as Monday’s wildfires approached. “There were 30 to 40 fire trucks that went up the road when we were there.”

The fire was heading their way.

With the flames fast approaching, horse owners at the many Manorville area stables were in a panic, using social media and other methods to call for help in moving horses to safety.

But in the end, the members of the “horse community,” as they call themselves, pulled together to make sure all the horses were safe.

“The horse community was wonderful,” said Carolyn Jolly, co-owner of Hidden Pond Stables on North Street in Manorville. “Everybody stepped up.”

Some horses were walked to safety, while others were loaded onto trailers and taken elsewhere temporarily, Ms. Jolly said.

“At one time, there must have been 200 horses walking down the street with their bridles,” said Joe Williams, county commissioner of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services. Initially, police were not letting horse trailers in because the roads were closed to traffic due to the fire, Ms. Jolly said, but the authorities eventually relented.

Hidden Pond Stables evacuated 40 of its 83 horses, Ms. Jolly said. By the time those animals were moved, the fire was under better control and, with danger no longer imminent, the rest of the horses were allowed to remain.

Ms. Jolly said word got out via email and Facebook that help was needed and, eventually, there were about 50 volunteers, including owners of horse transport companies donating their time and trailers.

She said the authorities didn’t supply any trailers or suggest ways to get the horses out.

“The horse community did it [themselves],” she said, though no stables were damaged in the fires.

Lynne Weissbard, owner of Sundance Stables on North Street, said she didn’t evacuate her horses. Instead, she rounded them up in the center of the property while the fire department wet down the perimeter. And it worked.

“If the fire came in from the side of the property, we would have had to evacuate, but the fire blasted past us in about five minutes,” Ms. Weissbard said.

With her horses safe, she sent all the people who came to her stable to help over to Annie’s Acres instead.

“The fire had moved past here, and we were OK, so I really wanted them to help where they were most needed,” said Ms. Weissbard, who spent 18 years with the Manorville Fire Department herself.

The volunteers included people who kept their horses at Sundance Stables, as well as others in the horse profession, she said.

“We all kept in touch with one another and bonded together,” she said. “It’s a small group of people with a passion for horses. I had probably 50 to 60 people volunteering here, from different professions. They were terrific.”

She said everything was under control and organized and everyone involved made sure that horses and buildings were not exposed to fire.

“Because we did that, we’re not out searching for our animals today,” Ms. Weissbard said. “They’re here.”

Catrina Tedesco of Manorville took her horse, Irish, from Annie’s Acres and walked him about two miles to Grumman Boulevard to get him out of harm’s way.

She originally started walking him along Old River Road, but the horse was getting spooked by passing cars, so she walked him through the Swan Lake golf course to Grumman Boulevard, marching the horse past an array of fire trucks and emergency vehicles.

Annie’s Acres, which boards about 60 horses, was spared by the fire, but the house directly across the street from the stable was destroyed.


04/10/12 12:10am
04/10/2012 12:10 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Thelma Pacson and her husband, Court Fleming, right, stayed at the Riverhead Senior Center Monday night because a wildfire has surrounded their Manorville home.

Court Fleming picked up his wife at the Ronkonkoma train station after work Monday and headed home to Manorville, not knowing what to expect when they got there.

They never made it past the Manorville Post Office.

Mr. Fleming and Thelma Pacson were the first of the evacuees to seek shelter Monday night at the Riverhead Senior Center in Aquebogue as a massive wildfire raged in the woodlands of eastern Suffolk County.

Mr. Fleming and Ms. Pacson said they learned about the fire about 3 p.m. ­— roughly a half hour after it started on the Brookhaven National  Lab property in Ridge  — from their two daughters currently home from college.

The daughters noticed a large plume of smoke in the air as they were headed to an area gym for a workout, the couple said. Then the daughters turned around, returned home and grabbed the family’s two dogs.

Mr. Fleming said both roads leading to his house — Mill Road and Line Road — were eventually closed.

“I never thought this could happen,” he said. “We couldn’t go down the street. There were fire trucks going in and out. All around us, apparently, was engulfed in smoke and flames.”

Mr. Fleming, 58, a Long Island facilities manager, and Ms. Pacson, 55, who works as an accounts payable manager in Manhattan, first met up with their daughters and pets at the post office, located less than a mile from their home on Wading River Manor Road. Once they found out they wouldn’t be allowed to return to their home, the family, including their two dogs, sought shelter and found it in Aquebogue, where the American Red Cross was on the scene.

“It was a little like camping,” Mr. Fleming said Tuesday afternoon of his overnight stay. “The Red Cross is an outstanding organization. It was very comfortable and very pleasant staying here.”

Red Cross shelter manager Scott Wheaton said Tuesday a total of six people had used the shelter since the fire broke out, with two people only staying for a short time after making arrangements with friends, he said.

Riverhead Town announced about 6:30 p.m. Monday, some four hours after the largest fire started at the lab, that people should evacuate homes in the area of Wading River-Manor Road and Schultz Road east to Edwards Avenue, as well as those living anywhere between the Peconic River north to Grumman Boulevard.

County officials could not say Tuesday exactly how many people were evacuated in all.

As for Mr. Fleming and his family, they were allowed to return home Tuesday afternoon. At about 1:30 p.m., a Riverhead police officer called Mr. Fleming’s cell to say it was safe for the family to return, though the power might remain out for precautionary reasons.

“Super,” said a smiling Mr. Fleming upon learning of the news.


03/21/12 10:45pm
03/21/2012 10:45 PM

A body was discovered in a wooded area of Manorville Wednesday, the second set of human remains found in the hamlet in just over a month, Suffolk County police said.

The remains were discovered by a jogger in the Manorville Hills County Park near the Long Island State Pine Barrens Preserve off County Road 111, according to a police statement.

Detectives from the Suffolk County Homicide Squad, the Suffolk County Crime Lab and the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner were processing the scene in the park Wednesday night and will perform an autopsy on the body, police said. The gender of the remains has yet to be determined.

It was not immediately clear if the body discovered Wednesday was related to the human remains discovered about four miles away in the woods north of North Road in Manorville on Feb. 17.

Those remains, which police said were decomposed and have not yet been identified, were discovered by a local man walking his dog in the area.

Manorville has been the site of numerous discovered bodies in the last decade, including a torso discovered in Manorville in 2003 belonging to Jessica Taylor, whose head, hands and feet were discovered last March near Gilgo Beach. Body parts found in 2000, belonging to an unidentified victim, also connect with remains found near Gilgo Beach

Two other male bodies have been found in Manorville in the past dozen years, but they have not been connected to the Gilgo case. Police said it is not yet clear if the latest discovered body is related to the Gilgo Beach slayings.