Fire on West Main Street displaces more than 30 Riverhead residents
Update: Riverhead Town police said the fire at 260 West Main St. likely started with someone smoking a cigarette inside a second floor room, according to a press release. The fire investigation is still ongoing.
When firefighters arrived on scene, they located the source of smoke on the second floor and extinguished a small sofa chair on fire in the room. The second-floor room was vacant when firefighters arrived.
The fire alarm had activated the building’s fire sprinkler system resulting in water flooding the first and second floors of the building. The building sustained heavy water and smoke damage and was deemed unlivable presently.
Original Story: A fire isolated inside one room at 260 West Main St. in Riverhead Thursday evening displaced more than 30 residents and resulted in a massive response from first responders.
The residents who had to be evacuated live a building run by Concern for Independent Living at the corner of Osborn Avenue and West Main Street. No injuries were reported, according to Riverhead Detective Pat Waski.
A fire alarm went off around 6:15 p.m. and members of the Riverhead Fire Department and Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps quickly arrived on scene. Multiple departments assisted, including the Wading River, Mattituck, Cutchogue and Southold fire departments. West Main Street was closed off as first responders were on scene for more than three hours.
The residents were being transported to nearby hotels until the complex could be cleared, Det. Waski said. Some residents were still in the process of being transported at around 9:30.
“Everybody was pretty well organized considering the environment,” Det. Waski said of the evacuation.
Mike Caron, assistant chief for the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps. said the residents were all kept warm and safe in various ambulances and fire trucks while a more permanent housing solution was sorted out. He said the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management and American Red Cross both assisted as well.
The final tally of residents transported to a local hotel for emergency housing was 31, he said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Riverhead Fire Marshal and the Suffolk County Arson Squad is assisting. Det. Waski said he did not have any further details on what may have started the fire. The front of the building was blocked off with crime tape Thursday night as the investigation was underway.
Concern for Independent Living is one of the largest housing agencies of its kind in New York, according to its website. The nonprofit currently has more than 240 locations serving 1,100 people.
Correction: The final number of residents transported was 31. The original number provided was around 40.
Top photo caption: Police tape blocked off the front of the building. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)