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Family of four escape house fire in Calverton, kitten killed


A Calverton family escaped unharmed when an early morning fire ripped through their home Thursday and “gutted” the house, Riverhead fire officials said.

Michael and Amy Runnalls, along with their two children, 11-year-old Madison and 8-year-old Aubrey, were sleeping when the fire broke out about 3:15 a.m.

The family lost nearly everything in the fire, including a pet kitten they had recently taken in, Mr. Runnalls said Thursday.

“A little baby cat that Amy found,” he said. “We rescued her and bottlefed her. She was a little tiny kitten.”

While the fire is still under investigation, Riverhead Fire Department chief Kevin Brooks said it appears the blaze started in a fire pit on the back deck of the house.

“It extended through [the house],” Mr. Brooks said. “Basically, the lion’s share of the house was gutted.”

“It’s ruined,” Mr. Runnalls said. “The whole back of the house is open.”

Riverhead firefighters, along with volunteer teams from Wading River and Flanders Fire Departments helped put out the fire.

The Runnalls family has insurance on the house and plan to stay nearby.

On Thursday morning, Mr. Runnalls walked out of the burned home carrying a charred DSLR camera. He had purchased it just yesterday, he said.

“Hopefully, I can bring it back and get a new one,” he said.

Neighbor David Huey said sounds of the raging fire awoke him and his wife.

“I thought I heard fireworks and then I looked out the bathroom windows and we saw flames, must have been hundreds of feet tall,” he said. “It’s crazy.”

He said he’s now going to change the batteries in the smoke detectors in his home.

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