Fighting fires in the freeze

Area firefighters have been busy during the recent cold snap, battling three structure fires over the last week.

No one was injured in any of the fires.

Riverhead Fire Department members put out a blaze at a church property in Riverhead just after midnight Tuesday, less than 12 hours after they had responded twice to a chimney fire at an Aquebogue home.

And last Wednesday morning, firefighters from three area departments battled a fire that tore through a boat and cargo trailer dealership on Flanders Road in Riverside.

In the fire at Church of the Harvest at 582 Raynor Ave., smoke was pouring out of the building when firefighters arrived, according to Riverhead Fire Chief Nicholas Luparella, and flames were searing the north side of the structure. About 30 firefighters were able to contain the blaze and limit serious damage to the porch area and kitchen.

The pastor, the Rev. Mike Troiano, discovered the blaze about midnight when he drove by the church on an errand and called 911, he told the News-Review.

As soon as he opened the door, he said, the heat and smoke drove him back. He said the fire, which melted an in-wall air conditioner, was probably electrical. The building was remodeled just two years ago, he said. The pastor added he was able to salvage church records from a computer and file cabinet.

Possibly because of the firefighters’ water usage, the tap water in at least one household on nearby Marcy Avenue was reported to have turned brown later Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

The fire at Riverhead Trailer in Riverside broke out about 8:30 a.m. last Wednesday, drawing firefighters from Riverhead, Flanders and Jamesport.

The building, adjacent to a mobile home park, was not occupied at the time, according to police. A section of Flanders Road was shut down while firefighters battled the blaze, Chief Luparella said.

Southampton Town fire marshals John Rankin and Brian Williams said the fire started after the business owner put ashes from a wood-burning stove into a plastic container, which later ignited.

The blaze was contained to one room in the building, fire officials said.

A chimney fire broke out at a home on Main Road in Aquebogue Tuesday as temperatures dipped as low as 4 degrees. Firefighters were called to the Hubbard family home just east of Edgar Avenue at about 5 a.m. and quickly doused the fire. They were called back after 8 a.m. and stayed on scene for two hours to make sure it was out for good.

Riverhead Fire Marshal Dave Andruskiewicz said the blaze was the result of a buildup of creosote in the flue. He said the fire had flared up again probably because embers had remained smoldering in small cracks in the chimney.

He recommended that homeowners with fireplaces have their chimneys inspected at least once a year to prevent fires.

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Additional reporting by staff photographer Barbaraellen Koch.

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