Fire, Fire, Many Happen Here

Something that has been kind of spooky this month is how many fires have taken place in the Hamptons. Our volunteer firefighters have had to battle blazes that have resulted in hospitalizations for exhaustion and smoke inhalation. There have been three major fires in the Hamptons this month. Entire buildings were completely engulfed in flames causing a total loss.

Firefighters in the Hamptons are a rare breed. They are always local, many with families established in their communities for decades, and the fire departments themselves feel like families. If you see any of these fine men and women in the street, stop them to shake their hand and to say thank you. They have been busy. [expand]

In East Hampton, the Hampton Market Place went up in flames on November 15. The grocery store and eatery is right by the East Hampton Y.M.C.A. RECenter and is known for their egg sandwiches. This was an especially dangerous fire because chlorofluorocarbon was present in the fumes due to the large refrigeration systems that were housed in the building to store food. You could smell the smoke by the movie theater on Main Street in East Hampton. Firefighters from East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Amagansett and Springs all responded. It remains unclear what started that fire. [expand]

Even more crazy, on that same day at Southampton Hospital’s Emergency Room, a man tried to commit suicide by filling his car with poisonous chemicals right in front of the emergency room. So the five firefighters that had to be rushed to the hospital from the Hampton Market Place fire encountered a hazmat unit dealing with that emergency there.

On November 11, a Friday, a house fire in Amagansett believed to have been caused by two dogs who were left alone with a box of cupcakes inside of the house, completely destroyed the home. Both dogs died in the fire. An investigation revealed that most likely the dogs went after the cupcakes, which had been left on the stove in the kitchen, and accidentally turned on the stove.

So far, there is nothing suspicious about these fires, or any indication they were set deliberately, but it has been on the minds of a few people who have been discussing these incidents. One possible reason for these suspicions, is that an arsonist has just pleaded guilty for causing a house fire last year in East Hampton. A fire he set caused injuries to three firefighters.

The man also admitted to town police that he deliberately set fire to wood siding he’d found on that home, as well as twigs and leaves, and the blaze got out of control. His reason for lighting it? He was trying to keep warm, he said, while squatting at the home. One firefighter from East Hampton who responded to that fire suffered second degree burns on his legs. $360,000 worth of damage was done to the house.

The final bit of fire news was back on November 4, when there was a terrible fire in Water Mill that set ablaze an outdoor shed on the property of a home. The fire was next to two propane tanks that soon exploded, completely engulfing the shed. Fifty-five firefighters responded. The explosions from the propane tanks were heard throughout the entire area, frightening a lot of people, but our brave volunteers took care of that fire as well.

I don’t know what the heck is going on with all of these fires in the Hamptons this month, but one thing I do know, I’m glad that my neighbors out there who are volunteer firefighters are always prepared, whenever the  siren sounds, to battle a blaze 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

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