Lincoln St. house fire victim counts his blessings

04/08/2010 12:00 AM |

Ray Smith, 75, said he didn’t even notice his roof was on fire when he got home Wednesday, until his neighbors told him. He said he’s been getting several offers of help since his home was destroyed by the blaze. And he still thanks the Lord for his blessings.

Ray Smith doesn’t sound like a man whose house just burned down.
“I have to ask the Lord every day, all day long, ‘Lord, what have I done for you to be so good to me?” he said Thursday, a day after his Lincoln Street home, believed to be about 90 years old, was destroyed by fire.
“Everything in there is a total loss,” the 75-year-old said. “But the main thing is that nobody was in there. For me, the things that I lost don’t mean nothing. But if somebody had gotten hurt, I would have been really upset.”
It took about four hours for firefighters from Riverhead and six neighboring departments to bring the blaze, which sparked about 10 a.m. and sent flames shooting through the roof and second story windows, under control.
It appeared to have started in either the attic or the second floor, but was so intense that firefighters say a portion of the roof collapsed, making it too dangerous to fight the fire from the inside, officials said. The  department used its 102-foot ladder truck to spray water onto the roof of the building.  Mr. Smith said he and his 28-year-old grandson, Frederick Griggs, lived in the home, but Mr. Griggs,  who works late, didn’t come home Wednesday morning.
“He would normally be here, but that night he stayed with his cousin,” he said.
Mr. Smith, who works as a nuisance wildlife expert, had left the house at about 7 a.m. and didn’t even notice fire when he got back around 10 a.m., he said.
“I just came home and went in the back door and two guys came by and said to get out, the house is on fire,” Mr. Smith said. “There was no fire downstairs.”
As he walked around the front, he heard a crackling sound from inside and thought it might be his grandson trying to get out of the house, he recalled. He approached the house, “but when I got to the steps, the smoke was so bad, I couldn’t get in there,” he said.
Still, Mr. Smith said he had a feeling his grandson somewhere safe.
“I’m just so glad he didn’t come home that night,” he said.
Since the fire, Mr. Smith has been living with his niece on Sound Avenue and has received many offers for help, he said. “There was a woman, I didn’t know who she was, she said you can come and stay with me,” he said.
He has owned the home for more than 30 years.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, officials said, though Mr. Smith speculated that it could have been caused by an overloaded circuit.
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