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Victim of Jamesport house fire identified

A 72-year-old Jamesport man has been identified as the victim of a house fire earlier this month.

Jeffrey Nelson’s body was discovered after an explosion ignited a massive fire at his home in the early morning hours Sept. 13.

When firefighters arrived on scene at 66 St. Mary’s Drive, the entire house was engulfed, Jamesport Fire Department Chief Mario Carrera said at the time.

“Flames were blowing halfway across the street,” he said.

Firefighters faced a challenging scene. In addition to the house fire, three cars and a boat at the property were also on fire. One vehicle was on the street, making it even harder to get equipment near the house. Mr. Carrera said there was concern that the blaze was burning close to that vehicle’s gas tank.

Police at the scene later that day said the loud explosion could be heard blocks away at around 4 a.m. That was followed by what sounded like ammunition going off.

“The heat was so intense,” Mr. Carrera said. “There were so many pops, bangs, little explosions.”

Suffolk County police said the initial 911 calls came into Riverhead Town police at 4:12 a.m. for the fire at the home located off Peconic Bay Boulevard.

The cause of the fire did not appear to be criminal, according to Suffolk police.

Mr. Carrera described the scene as a “very intense fire” that posed several challenges for the responding firefighters. Crews responded from fire departments in Riverhead, Mattituck and Cutchogue, while a Southold engine was on standby for Jamesport. The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps also responded along with a Mattituck ambulance.

“It was a difficult scene,” he said, adding that an estimated 70 to 85 firefighters responded.

There were no injuries reported among the firefighters.

One house to the south of the fire sustained some damage, Mr. Carrera said. Some of the vinyl siding on the house melted and a car was damaged as well.

Mr. Carrera said it appeared the homeowner stored a lot of things inside the house.

The Riverhead Fire Marshal and investigators with the Suffolk County Police Arson Squad were on scene that morning, examining through the debris before the body was located. A police K-9 assisted in the search of the smoldering remains.

Mr. Nelson’s remains were carried out under a white sheet into a Suffolk County medical examiner’s van shortly before 2 p.m., nearly 10 hours after the fire started.