Riverhead firefighters practice extinguishing aircraft blaze

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Riverhead firefighters extinguished a burning aircraft during a drill Thursday night at Gabreski Airport.

The Riverhead Fire Department trained to extinguish a burning aircraft at Gabreski Airport Thursday night. The three-hour drill was the first of its kind for the department, which has a mutual-aid agreement with the base.

Conducted by the 106th Air Rescue Wing, the drill prepares crews to control flames and rescue passengers in the event of a fiery airplane crash. Thirty Riverhead firefighters, joined by members of the Manorville Fire Department, took turns battling the fire, which was set to the mobile aircraft simulator using 750 gallons of propane. The simulator, provided by Kellogg Community College in Michigan, replicates a 50-foot fuselage with severe structural damage.

Over the past several days crews from Flanders, East Quogue, Quogue, Eastport, and Westhampton Beach participated in the drill. The simulator will now travel to Florida to continue training firefighters with similar drills across the nation.

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