A fire that destroyed two homes at the Montauk Shores Condominium community on Deforest Road on November 13 is still under investigation by the East Hampton Town fire marshal’s office.
The blaze broke out at 6 a.m. at the oceanfront community and former campground/mobile home park, which is just east of Ditch Plains and whose homes are in close proximity. Flames spread from one home to another 12 feet away, challenging firefighters while they battled high winds as well as icy conditions that caused a slippery mess.
Montauk Fire Department Chief Richard Schoen said the other homes were saved because firefighters wet them down before fiery gusts could claim them.
Fifty Montauk volunteers were joined by men and women from the East Hampton and Amagansett fire departments. They had to contend with a “horrible hydrant system,” according to the chief, and East Hampton and Amagansett had to bring tankers so that water could reach the homes. The Springs Fire Department was on standby at the Amagansett fire station in case more help was needed.
“We’ve had a very busy morning,” Chief Schoen said that morning. “It took a while because we had a pretty active fire. Our primary concern was saving the other houses. They were not occupied so we didn’t have that issue.” The fire was put out at around 8:30 a.m. and there were no injuries.
The blaze does not seem suspicious, Chief Schoen said. It is likely that it was caused by an electrical problem, he said, and fire marshals think that battery chargers that were left on or a refrigerator might have started it.
According to East Hampton Town Fire Marshal David Browne, the fire is still under investigation, but there were no signs of an accelerant and it does not look intentional.
George Arco, who owned unit 101, said he and his wife, Kim, experienced a “total loss.”
“This has been a whirlwind—of course, we were surprised by the fire,” he said. “We love Montauk and Montauk Shores. This has been devastating.”
What was going to be the Arcos’ second summer home turned to ash—it had been newly built and was only completed in July, Mr. Arco said. He added that the estimated value of what they lost is over $200,000 but said he is hopeful that insurance will help out.
He said he and the other homeowner, who declined to be named, plan to rebuild their homes.
The Arcos live in Westchester County and have owned another unit in the condo park since 2005. They plan to stay there while unit 101 is being rebuilt. Mr. Arco, who is a volunteer firefighter in Westchester and works in the building and maintenance business, has been coming out to Montauk for 40 years and said he knows the community well.
“Montauk Shores is an amazing community and like our second family down there,” Mr. Arco said. “We have to thank the fire departments and the ambulance companies. They did a fantastic job—it was a very difficult fire, and I’m happy nobody got hurt.”