12/19/13 8:00am
12/19/2013 8:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A coiled extension cord plugged into a space heater caused this Flanders home to be destroyed by fire Monday.

The fire that destroyed an elderly man’s home in Flanders Monday morning was caused by a 100-foot long extension cord that was plugged into a space heater and coiled in cardboard box with clothes piled on top of it, according to Southampton Town Fire Marshal John Rankin.

The 73-year-old sole occupant of the Pricilla Avenue home was rescued by a neighbor who pounded on his door and pulled him out of the burning house shortly before the fire intensified.

ORIGINAL STORY: Neighbor rescues man from burning house

“Extension cords are meant for temporary use, and you should extend them out to their full length, because that will dissipate the heat,” Mr. Rankin said.

The coiled extension cord heated in the box and eventually set both the cardboard box and the clothing on fire, said Mr. Rankin, who said a nearby mattress then went up in flames, too.

Joe Marshall, who lives just a few doors down, was driving past the house on the way to his mother’s house when he saw smoke coming out the window.

“As soon as he got him out, the whole house lit up, which indicates that the entirety of the house probably flashed over,” Mr. Rankin said. ”Basically, this means that everything in the house catches fire at the same time, almost like an explosion.”

Mr. Marshall reported seeing overhead electrical wires leading into the house begin to explode.

The homeowner, Richard Morrison, was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his back, caused by burning debris from the house falling on him, Mr. Rankin said.

Mr. Morrison was recently hospitalized with congestive heart failure, Mr. Marshall said.

Mr. Rankin said the home was gutted.

“He lost everything,” he said. “We couldn’t even find his car keys for him.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

12/12/13 5:40pm
12/12/2013 5:40 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | One person was airlifted to an area hospital following an accident on Edwards Avenue, fire officials said.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | One person was airlifted to an area hospital following an accident on Edwards Avenue, fire officials said.

One person was airlifted to an area hospital following after striking a telephone pole on Edwards Avenue just before 5 p.m. Thursday, fire officials said.

The accident happened in the vicinity of Village Green South, said Riverhead Fire department second assistant chief Kevin Brooks.

Traffic was shut down at the intersection of Edwards Avenue and Riley Avenue for a short time following the crash.

Chief Brooks said it appeared to be a one-car accident, which sustained “substantial damage,” but could not comment on the make and model. Police said the victim suffered a head injury in the crash, however the severity of the injuries were not immediately clear.

The victim was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, officials said.

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11/16/13 5:18pm
11/16/2013 5:18 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | About 40 fire department volunteers responded to the scene of a mulch fire Saturday afternoon.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | About 40 fire department volunteers responded to the scene of a mulch fire Saturday afternoon.

Riverhead Fire Department volunteers extinguished a mulch fire on Sound Avenue for the third time in just over a week, officials said.

A 20-by-20 foot mulch pile that was more than 10 feet high at Wells Farm combusted into flames Saturday afternoon, the third time the compost has ignited “in a week and a half,” said second assistant chief Pete Jackman.

About 40 department volunteers responded to the farm, located on Sound Avenue just east of Phillips Lane about 2:30 p.m., officials said.

“In the mulch process, the internal heat can cause the material to spontaneously combust,” Riverhead spokesman Bill Sanok has said of mulch fires in the past.

Chief Jackman said adding a bit of moisture to mulching process, like today’s early morning drizzle, can cause the compost to smoke and eventually ignite.

“There is a lot of mulch in here,” Chief Jackman said. “ [The farmer] is trying to break it up and move it around.”

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO  |  Firefighters extinguish the mulch fire.

11/16/13 4:43pm
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  Ambulance officials declined to comment on the nature of the victim's injuries.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Ambulance officials declined to comment on the nature of the victim’s injuries.

A man was airlifted to an area hospital after a one-car accident on Flanders Road Saturday afternoon, officials said.

A green sedan traveling westbound crossed into the oncoming lane and crashed into a utility pole near Whitebrook Drive just after 2:30 p.m., said Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department chief Joseph Raynor.

Flanders-Northampton Ambulance officials declined to comment on the nature of the man’s injuries, saying only that he was being airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center.

Southampton Town police diverted eastbound traffic down Whitebrook Drive for about a half hour following the crash.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A green sedan crashed into a utility pole on Flanders Road Saturday afternoon.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A green sedan crashed into a utility pole on Flanders Road Saturday afternoon.

10/06/13 6:00pm
10/06/2013 6:00 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Riverhead Fire Department firefighters demonstrate a response to a car fire.

The Riverhead Fire Department hosted its 15th annual open house Sunday. The event featured a heavy rescue demonstration, fire trucks on display and tours of the Roanoke Avenue firehouse.

Check out scenes from the event below:

09/22/13 2:30pm
09/22/2013 2:30 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Bikers arrive at The Maples in Manorville, the second stop of a charity poker run to defray medical costs of Tom Jasinski, a longtime Riverhead Firefighter who recently died.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Bikers arrive at The Maples in Manorville, the second stop of a charity poker run to defray medical costs of Tom Jasinski, a longtime Riverhead Firefighter who recently died.

Saturday’s “Fighting 4 TJ” Poker Biker Run at the Elks Club in Riverhead was originally supposed to be a fundraiser to help Flanders resident and former Riverhead Fire Department volunteer Tom Jasinski offset the costs associated with his battle against stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

Instead it became a memorial for Mr. Jasinski who died Sept. 3, a day before the event received approvals from Riverhead Town.

Marianne Katusha, Mr. Jasinski’s fiance, organized the event and she says the money will still be used to pay Mr. Jasinski’s $25,000 in medical bills.

Mr. Jasinski was only diagnosed with cancer in May, and his condition worsened quickly, she said.

“This was supposed to be a surprise,” she said of the fundraiser. “But at the end, I told him, because I wanted to see if I could give him some more incentive to live, but the cancer just ate him up.”

Mr. Jasinski was a 22-year member of the Riverhead Fire Department and a retired Riverhead Central School District security guard. Members of the security department were on hand Saturday to help set up at the fundraiser.

“He was the most courageous man I’ve ever met,” Ms. Katusha said of Mr. Jasinski. “He was my hero. He was the love of my life and the only man I’ve ever loved. This man, knowing he had terminal stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, drove 1,000 miles twice to take all of our belongings to Tennessee, which was the new home I had bought for us.”

“He was a former  Riverhead fireman for 22 years and he was at the 1995 wildfires,” Ms. Katusha said. “He was there every single day until those fires were put out. He was ready to roll out for 9/11  (2001) but his company got called back at the last minute.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Marianne Katusha, left, signs up bikers at a charity Poker Run to offset medical costs of her late fiance, Tom Jasinski, Saturday, at the Riverhead Elks Lodge. With her are Mr. Jasinski's daughter, Jackie Guastella, and granddaughter, Kailie Guastella.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Marianne Katusha, left, signs up bikers at a charity Poker Run to offset medical costs of her late fiance, Tom Jasinski, Saturday, at the Riverhead Elks Lodge. With her are Mr. Jasinski’s daughter, Jackie Guastella, and granddaughter, Kailie Guastella.

Mr. Jasinski was a father of four and grandfather of six. His daughter Jackie Guastella and granddaughter, Kailie Guastella, were on hand Saturday to help with the fundraiser.

The Poker Run started at the Elks Club on East Main Street in Riverhead where motorcycle riders (or car drivers, which was allowed) picked up the first of six cards they would collect. The other cards were at check-in posts at the Boardy Barn in Hampton Bays, The Maples in Manorville, Cliff’s Elbow Room in Jamesport, Meetinghouse Creek Inn in Aquebogue and Diggers in Riverhead. Whoever had the best hand at the end won.

About 40 riders participated, Mr. Katusha said.

In addition to the poker run, where participants paid a $20 entry fee, there also was a 50-50 raffle and a Chinese Auction. More than 50 raffle items and 50 gift cards were donated to the event, Ms. Katusha said.

She said she was disappointed with the turnout for the fundraiser, but acknowledged that it took place at the same time as a number of other big events, including the Maritime Festival in Greenport and a 100th Anniversary Parade for the Eastport Fire Department. She said Saturday was the only day available for the event.

People interested in helping defray Mr. Jasinski’s medical costs can still do so by going to www.giveforward.com/fighting4tjmemorial or by sending donations by mail to Fighting for TJ, at PO Box 562, Riverhead, NY 11901, according to Ms. Katusha.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/19/13 7:52pm
09/19/2013 7:52 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Firefighters extinguish a mulch fire in Calverton Thursday evening.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Firefighters extinguish a mulch fire in Calverton Thursday evening.

Volunteers from several local fire departments were called to help the Riverhead Fire Department battle a mulch fire on the southeast portion of the Calverton Shooting Range property off Nugent Drive  Thursday evening.

The call came in at about 6 p.m. and the fire was located deep into the property off a dirt road.

Riverhead called for help from pumper trucks from the Flanders, Eastport and Manorville fire departments and a truck from the Jamesport Fire Department was called to be on standby at the Riverhead firehouse. The fire was under control and the mutual aid trucks were released from the scene by 7:40 p.m.

The Brookhaven Town fire marshal,and Manorville Ambulance were also on the scene, as was a brush truck from the Flanders Fire Department.

Firefighters were on the scene for more than an hour and a half. Mulch fires are often difficult to extinguish because the internal heat within the mulch can often combust, officials say.

This was the second mulch fire firefighters responded to this week, after a large mulch fire broke out on a property on the east side of Horton Avenue in Riverhead early Wednesday morning.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/18/13 12:11pm
09/18/2013 12:11 PM

About 100 fire department volunteers from six different departments were called out to extinguish an early morning mulch blaze by the intersection of Horton Avenue and Osborne Avenue in Riverhead, according to Riverhead fire officials.

Upon arrival to the 6 a.m. alarm, officials “immediately” called for mutual aid, said spokesman Bill Sanok.

The mulch fire covered an “extensive area,” consisting of several mulch piles between 18 and 20 feet high, Mr. Sanok said.

“In the mulch process, the internal heat can cause the material to spontaneously combust, and because the piles were so large there was tremendous heat,” he said.

The compost piles were made up of wood chippings, leaves and grass clippings, and piles needed to be broken apart to get at the base of the heat, Mr. Sanok said.

“They hooked up to hydrants and some of the departments brought their [water] tankers in,” he said.

It took about two hours to extinguish, ending about 8:30 a.m., officials said.

Volunteers from Riverhead, Manorville, Eastport, Westhampton, Flanders and Jamesport departments arrived at the scene, while East Quogue volunteers waited on stand-by at the Riverhead Fire Department.

No one was hurt in the blaze.

cmiller@timesreview.com