Tag Archive | "fire"

Chariots of Firefighters: The Practice of Firematic Competition in New York State

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Firematic Competition. Photo by Michael Heller.

Firematic Competition. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

Award-winning—and Sag Harbor Express—photographer and journalist Michael Heller has continued his documentation of the friendly competition of fire departments in “Chariots of Firefighters: The History and Practice of Firematic Competition in New York State—Volume II: The Practice.” “Volume I: The History” was published in 2009.

The histories, the second of which Mr. Heller spent the last five years writing, chronicle the birth and rise of inter-department contests over 200 years and the present practice of modern-day firematic competition, with detailed descriptions and historic photographs alongside Mr. Heller’s stunning work.

“It is an in-depth look into a unique culture and facet of the world of firefighting in the United States that is unparalleled anywhere else in the entire world,” said a press release about the books, which chronicle a custom that is more prevalent in New York State than anywhere else.

An active volunteer firefighter with Hook & Ladder Co. #1 of the East Hampton Fire Department for the last 25 years, Mr. Heller has used his camera to document both fires and firematic competition. He has won numerous awards from the New York Press Association, the International Fire Photographers Association and other organizations for his writing and photography. In 2004, Mr. Heller took home the Grand Prize “Golden Firefighter Award” in the international photography Bombero de Oro (“Fire Photography Contest”) held in Spain.

Both volumes of “Chariots of Firefighters” are self-published and available for purchase here. For more information, email Mr. Heller at mheller@nysdrillteams.com. To see Mr. Heller’s portfolio, visit hellercreative.com.

Arson Squad Investigating Cause of Southampton House Fire

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A house on Seven Ponds Road in Southampton caught fire Tuesday night. Photo by Michael Pintauro.

A house on Seven Ponds Road in Southampton caught fire Tuesday night. Photos by Michael Pintauro.


By Tessa Raebeck 

The Suffolk County Arson Squad is investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a new house on Seven Ponds Road in Southampton during the evening of Tuesday, July 29.

According to Southampton Town Fire Marshal Al Tyczkowski, the fire at 18 Seven Ponds Road started at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday. When firefighters arrived at 7:12 p.m., they found the house already engulfed in flames. The fire was not extinguished until approximately midnight.

The fire department was notified of the blaze via several 911 calls made by passing motorists.

The Southampton, Hampton Bays, North Sea, Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton fire departments all responded.

When the fire’s origin could not be determined, the Suffolk County Arson Squad was called to the scene early Wednesday morning.

“It’s still under investigation,” Mr. Tyczkowski said Wednesday of a possible cause. “There hasn’t been a determination made yet.”

Sag Harbor resident Michael Pintauro was passing Hampton Bays on his way home from Riverhead when he saw the smoke from the roadway. He parked on David’s Lane in Southampton to watch the fire and was quickly joined by other passersby. The person parked next to him said he had driven all the way from Mattituck to find the source of the blaze. Others who pulled over told Mr. Pintauro they had speculated a gas station had exploded due to the extent of smoke in the sky.

“It was amazing how quickly it grew and how large the flames were,” Mr. Pintauro said Wednesday. “People said they were able to see the smoke from Sunrise Highway and the North Fork.”

There is no additional information as to what caused the house fire at this time. According to Southampton Town records, Glenn Fishman purchased the 1.9-acre property in March 2013.





Fire Hits Home in Bay Point

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By Claire Walla

When reports of a house fire on Bay Point in Sag Harbor hit the radio waves on Monday, May 21, firefighters from Sag Harbor, East Hampton and North Sea were quickly on the scene. And according to Sag Harbor Fire Chief Pete Garypie, they distinguished the blaze in a matter of minutes.

However, by the time the fire was reported, some significant damage had already been done.

“The bedroom — where the fire was mostly contained — was gutted,” Garypie explained. “And the rest of the house was severely smoke damaged.”

Garypie said crews arrived at 21 Harbor Drive at 10:33 a.m. to find smoke billowing out of the single-story, waterfront home at the eastern edge of the Bay Point peninsula. He added that the fire was already visible at the back of the house when crews first arrived.

One team of volunteer firefighters quickly entered through the front door of the home with a hose to extinguish the flames. Firefighters ultimately made their way to the rear of the building where a bedroom in the western corner of the home was ablaze.

“There was high heat and lots of smoke,” Garypie said of the conditions firefighters faced. “The guys did a great job.”

He also noted that one of the windows in the back of the property had “let go.” It sent wind inside, which Garypie said possibly stoked the flames.

At this time, however, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

One fireman was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, which means he was given oxygen and water and told to rest for at least 45 minutes. Garypie said he is now doing fine. Other than that, the fire chief added, there are no reported injuri

Sagaponack Barn Allegedly Ignited By Hazardous Materials

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By Claire Walla

On Sunday, June 26 at approximately 12:15 p.m. Southampton Town Police were alerted to a barn fire that erupted at Schwenks Farm on Montauk Highway in Sagaponack.

According to Southampton Town Fire Marshall John Rankin, the flames extended over the top of the barn by 20 to 25 feet, prompting help from at least seven volunteer fire departments in closest proximity to the East End parcel.

About 75 to 100 firefighters from Southampton Town, East Hampton Southampton Village, Amagansett, Sag Harbor, North Sea and Bridgehampton Fire Departments were on the scene at 3491 Montauk Highway, in the vicinity of Town Line Road and the Poxabogue Golf Center.   Rankin noted that three trucks were set-up with hoses, and an additional truck from Sag Harbor with a portable water tank assisted the fleet.

“They did pretty well,” Rankin said of the firefighting crew.  “They had the fire pretty much under control at about 1:45 p.m.,” which was when Rankin arrived on the scene.  “They were just getting ready to do salvage and overhaul when I got there.”

Though Rankin said no one was reportedly injured in the blaze, “unfortunately the building was a total loss.”

The fire is thought to have originated in the storage barn itself, which housed various farm equipment, including highly flammable grease and oils, as well as oxygen and Acetylene gas (materials that are often used in combination for welding).

“It appears as though Mr. Schwenk had been working inside the building prior to the fire,” Rankin explained.  “He was there that morning working on some stuff.”  One of the tasks he was reportedly working on included cutting a strand of polypropylene rope.  The Southampton Town Fire Chief noted that polypropylene rope is typically burned and therefore melted at the end to prevent the strand from fraying.   Though the official cause of the fire has not yet been officially determined, Rankin said “we’re working on the possibility that the rope had continued to smolder” after Schwenk left the building.

Because of the potentially hazardous materials stored in the old, wooden structure, Southampton Hazardous Materials Team responded to investigate the scene after the fire had been put out.

Rankin explained that there was a house and a garage located in relatively close proximity to the now-charred wooden structure, but said they were not threatened by the flames.

Southampton Town Police reported to the scene around 12:15 p.m. to set-up a perimeter around the building, which consequently blocked-off Montauk Highway between Sagg Road and Wainscott Harbor Road for about three hours.

Smoke Detector Saves Woman’s Life

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In the early hours of Monday morning, June 6,  the Southampton Town Police 911 center received a call from a Burkeshire Drive, Noyac, resident reporting a neighboring house on fire. Immediately after the initial call at 2:24 a.m., and the dispatching of the Sag Harbor Fire Department, the 911 center received an additional call from the sole occupant of 3 Burkeshire Drive also reporting a fire within the residence.

Within minutes numerous Sag Harbor Fire Department firefighters and a Southampton Town Police officer arrived at the residence to find the attached garage and a portion of the house engulfed in flames. The occupant, a 58-year-old woman, told the officer that she was asleep in bed when the smoke detectors activated awaking her. She immediately evacuated the residence and once safely outside made the call to 911.

Due to the volume of fire and the speed at which it spread, it is believed that had the smoke detector not activated, the woman would have been overcome by the smoke and/or flames, said police in a press release.

It took the Sag Harbor Fire Department approximately 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control. The home and two vehicles, one in the garage and one adjacent to the garage door suffered significant damage, however no civilians or fire personnel were injured.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department was assisted by the East Hampton Fire Department and the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps at the scene. The Bridgehampton Fire Department stood-by in Sag Harbor in the event of another fire emergency.

Southampton Town fire marshalls were requested to the scene to investigate the cause of the fire. It does not appear to be suspicious in nature at this time, although the investigation is still on-going.

The Southampton Town Police Department strongly urges the public to ensure that they have working smoke detectors in their homes. One detector should be installed in each bedroom, one outside of each sleeping area and at least one on each level of the structure. Additionally, the detectors should be tested once a month and the batteries replaced twice a year at the time changes for daylight savings.

Fire Kills East Hampton Man

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On Monday evening, Thomas Jones, a 61-year-old East Hampton man, died in a fire at his Springs Fireplace Road home, East Hampton Town Police report. Chief Chris Bono, a second assistant chief with the East Hampton Town Fire Department, was driving by the house when he spotted the flames, reported an East Hampton Town firefighter. Chief Bono called in the fire a little after 5 p.m. and soon afterwards several dozen firefighters and police officers arrived at the scene.

Above: Jones’ home the day after the blaze that claimed his life.

While trying to calm the flames, firefighters located Jones lying unconscious in a first floor bedroom. East Hampton Town Police say Jones was removed from the blaze and transported to Southampton Hospital. Jones was declared dead at 6:08 p.m. by emergency personnel.

“I only saw him once or twice in his yard,” said a resident who lived near Jones. “He had these little white wire lawn chairs and he would place the stuffed animals in them. He would change the animals around. I thought that was kind of charming and it made me feel endeared to him, even though I never met him. It was a little world for passersby to enjoy.”

Police say a preliminary investigation indicates that the fire was caused accidentally. The police say they will continue to investigate the case.