Seven fire departments were called to North Sea on Monday to battle a blaze that nearly destroyed the home of Southampton School Board Vice President David Dubin and his family.
A contractor arrived at the unoccupied house at 37 Parkside Avenue to perform repairs that morning and called 911 after discovering the fire at around 7:15 a.m., said Southampton Town Fire Marshal Alfred Tyczkowski. North Sea firefighters, with the aid of six other fire departments, fought the fire for about two hours before extinguishing it at around 9:30 a.m.
“The house is repairable, but there is substantial damage,” Mr. Tyczkowski said. “There was a collapse in the kitchen.”
The fire had weakened the floor, and the kitchen appliances fell through to the basement, North Sea Fire Chief Steve Phillips said. “The kitchen floor could just not handle the weight anymore.”
Firefighters were in the basement at the time, and the kitchen collapsed right in front of them, the chief said. Nothing landed on the firefighters, and they were uninjured.
But two firefighters were hospitalized that morning in different incidents. Drywall, under the weight of water filling the attic, collapsed on a firefighter in the garage, and Chief Phillips sheepishly admitted that he also was sent to the hospital after he slipped on ice. Both firefighters were released from the hospital after short, precautionary visits.
The conditions at the scene were horrible, Chief Phillips said. “Because of the ice, everything was freezing up,” he said. “We had to call in the town to sand the road.”
There also were no fire hydrants nearby and the house was set back far from the road up a winding driveway, making it even harder for firefighters to bring water to the house, the chief said. Sag Harbor, Westhampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Southampton fire departments arrived to assist with tanker trucks full of water and Hampton Bays Fire Department assisted with manpower. Southampton and Bridgehampton volunteer ambulance members were also on hand.
The fire appears to have started in the basement, according to Mr. Tyczkowski and other fire officials. “It was an electrical problem at the service panel, but we need an electrical engineer to confirm that,” he said.
Chief Phillips said there was extensive fire, smoke and water damage to the interior of the house. He also noted the tragic timing of the blaze, during the holiday season.
Mr. Dubin could not immediately be reached for comment.
Southampton School Board President Donald King, who is a member of the Southampton Fire Department but was not present at the fire Monday morning, said he spoke with Mr. Dubin that afternoon to extend his sympathies and offer a hand. “I can only imagine how he feels,” Mr. King said.
Mr. King said the Dubins made arrangements for a place to stay in the short term, at least, and would be more secure as time goes on. “There’s been a lot of outpouring from the community,” he said.
Chief Phillips pointed out that the fire was just around the corner from Maple Avenue, where a fire destroyed a house on November 1. A faulty television was cited as the cause of that fire.