06/23/13 5:35pm
06/23/2013 5:35 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A pair of friends was rescued off Hulse Landing Beach in Wading River Sunday afternoon.

The Wading River Fire Department’s water rescue team rescued two people almost a mile off Hulse Landing beach in the Long Island Sound Sunday afternoon.

A woman sailboarder who entered the water in Shoreham was beginning to struggle on the sailboard, and her male friend swam out to help her.

The man, who declined to give his name to a reporter, as did the woman, said he was swimming for about 45 minutes before he finally reached her and told her to hang onto the board while he pulled her to shore. He said he used to be a lifeguard and is a strong swimmer.

Police at the scene said the sailboard was about three quarters of a mile out to sea in the Long Island Sound. A Riverhead Town police officer on a four-wheel drive beach vehicle was alerted by people on the beach, who said the couple appeared to be struggling.

The Wading River Fire Department got the call at about 4 p.m. and initially called for mutual aid from the Riverhead and Rocky Point fire department’s water rescue teams, as well, but they canceled the request after they quickly located the pair in the water. A Suffolk County Police rescue boat also responded.

The pair was safely brought to shore by the Wading River Fire Department boat and both were uninjured and did not need medical attention.  The woman told police she had been in the water since 11 a.m.

The man told a reporter the rescue team “did a great job.”


06/21/13 5:00pm
06/21/2013 5:00 PM
GOOGLE MAPS | Two people were rescued by a Good Samaritan in a kayak and Wading River firefighters Thursday evening.

GOOGLE MAPS | Two people were rescued by a Good Samaritan in a kayak and Wading River firefighters Thursday evening.

A kayaker helped Wading River firefighters rescue a father and his young daughter from Long Island Sound after their boat capsized Thursday evening, Wading River fire officials said.

A 36-year-old Shirley man and his 10-year-old daughter were in a canoe off Wading River beach on Creek Road when the boat flipped over about 6 p.m. and began taking on water, said Wading River Fire Chief Jim Evans.

“Luckily they had life jackets and a whistle,” Chief Evans said.

The kayaker, a Shoreham woman who was in the area, heard the two stranded boaters using a whistle and came to their aid while fishermen on the beach called 911, Chief Evans said.

The Good Samaritan then paddled next to the flipped canoe and let the girl into her kayak, while the father clung to the side of the boat until rescue arrived.

Wading River firefighters got to the scene about 6:10 p.m. and used a department rescue boat to bring the kayaker and the father and daughter back to shore.

All three were evaluated by Wading River ambulance volunteers, but were not injured, police said. Chief Evans said the kayaker’s quick thinking helped to get the boater back to shore safely.

“She was key,” he said. “[She got] to them in minutes so they could stay afloat, and kept them visible in the water until our boat arrived and got them out.”


06/02/13 6:20pm
06/02/2013 6:20 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Wading River ambulance volunteers assist a couple that was stranded more than a mile off Wading River Town Beach Sunday.

A Ronkonkoma couple spent two hours stranded in the Long Island Sound Sunday after they had to abandon their inflatable rubber motor boat more than a mile off Wading River Town Beach, Riverhead Town Police said.

The husband and wife said they attempted to swim to shore after the boat’s motor died about 3 p.m., police said. Both of them were wearing life jackets and they were brought to shore shortly after 5 p.m. by a civilian with a raft.

Wading River Fire Department and Riverhead Police officials rushed to the town beach, where they evaluated the couple and treated them with oxygen.

The couple told police they had launched the boat from near Hulse Landing Beach and were about a mile and a half off the shore when the motor died.


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:

02/03/13 1:27pm
02/03/2013 1:27 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A woman was injured when she rolled out of this Saturn Ion after it was hit by a Jeep.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A woman was injured when she rolled out of this Saturn Ion after it was hit by a Jeep.

Two women were sent to the hospital Sunday afternoon following a two-car crash in Calverton, which knocked one passenger out of her vehicle, Wading River fire officials said.

A gray Saturn Ion was turning left into the Bean and Bagel Cafe parking lot when it was struck by a Jeep Cherokee driving west on Route 25, police at the scene said. A passenger in the Saturn rolled out of the vehicle when the force of the collision broke the door handle to the rear passenger door, authorities said.

Wading River firefighters were called to the scene with a heavy rescue truck, but it was not needed. The woman who was ejected from the Saturn and a woman in the Jeep were both hospitalized, said Wading River fire chief Jim Evans.

The woman in the Saturn was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center, while the passenger from the Jeep was taken to Stony Brook University hospital, fire officials said.


01/29/13 12:16am
01/29/2013 12:16 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Wading River firefighters cut a man out of a crashed car late Monday night.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Wading River firefighters cut a man out of a crashed car late Monday night.

A man and a woman were hospitalized late Monday night after the car they were driving in crashed into a utility pole on Route 25A while trying to avoid a deer in the road, authorities said.

The pair was driving west on Route 25A in a late model Buick sedan when a deer jumped in front of the car arbout 10:45 p.m., police said. The woman driving the car swerved out of the way of the animal but struck a nearby pole on the eastbound side of the road, police said.

Wading River Fire Department chiefs were at headquarters when the accident occurred and were the first ones on the scene, said Fire Chief Jim Evans. The driver of the car was able to get out of the vehicle on her own, but her passenger was pinned inside, he said.

Firefighters cut away the roof of the car to extract the man and had him out of the car after about 15 minutes, Mr. Evans said.

Both were transported to Stony Brook University hospital. While the woman suffered minor injuries in the crash, fire officials did not know the extend of the man’s injuries.

Fire police closed Route 25A between Hulse Landing Road and Route 25 asWading River firefighters got the victims out of the car and transported them to the hospital.


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.











12/11/12 10:27pm
12/11/2012 10:27 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Firetrucks parked in the existing fire station on Hulse Landing Road.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Trucks parked in the existing fire station on Hulse Landing Road.

Voters in the Wading River Fire District on Tuesday rejected a proposal to borrow $4.75 million toward building a new fire station on Hulse Landing Road.

The vote was 126 votes in favor of the new building and 198 opposed.

The district planned to replace the existing 5,100-square-foot fire station , which was built in 1982, with a new 11,500 square-foot structure.

In addition to the $4.75 million bond, the district also planned to use $1 million from its reserve fund, bringing the total cost of the project to $5.75 million.

The existing building has a leaky roof, heating and cooling systems that need to be replaced and problems with the underground LIPA lines, according to fire district manager Greg Michalakopoulos.

And volunteers’ gear is stored right up against the engine, which is now against OSHA regulations, he said.

Commissioner Tim Deveny said his taxes would have gone up $55 if the bond was approved.

“Over 365 days, it would cost me and my family 15 cents a day to have that new firehouse,” he said.

For most people in Riverhead Town, the estimated cost of the firehouse was $35 to $40, he said

“You can’t go out to a diner for that,” he said, adding that the commissioners will have to meet again and decide what steps to take next.

“You can’t keep putting good money into repairing that building,” he said.

Meanwhile, all of the area fire commissioner elections were unopposed in their bids for five-year terms Tuesday night, and all were re-elected, as there were no surprise write-in candidacies.

In Wading River, incumbent Tom Lateulere was re-elected with 276 of the 280 votes cast.

In the Riverhead Fire District, incumbent Mark Conklin was reelected with 67 votes, to two write-ins.

In Jamesport, Robert Sikora, running for the seat being vacated by longtime commissioner Jim Kane, who opted not to seek reelection, got 31 votes, to 3 write-ins, two of which were for Mr. Kane.

Jamesport also had an uncontested election for treasurer, with incumbent Paul Epperlein receiving 34 votes.

In Manorville, Thomas Costello, running for the seat being vacated by incumbent Robert McCluskey, got all 67 votes.

And in Flanders, incumbent David Scaffauer received all 13 votes cast in winning reelection.