Fire Marshal: Cause Of Sandpiper Fire Still Unknown

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Almost two weeks after a fire destroyed a 54-unit oceanfront cooperative in Westhampton Beach, the cause of the blaze remains a mystery to investigators.

John Rankin, the lead Southampton Town fire marshal on the case, said Monday morning that he will conduct several interviews before closing the book on the investigation.

Mr. Rankin said he still needs to talk to people who were in the building when the fire broke out on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 15, and piece those accounts together with physical evidence gathered from the remains of the 375-foot-long, two-story structure.

“It’s probably going to take us a bit because of the size of the building and because we still have interviews to do with the workers and the other people that were in the building at the time,” he said.

Mr. Rankin said the fire appears to have originated in the center of the building, likely on the first floor, then spread out in both directions, fueled by the building’s flammable frame and elevated design, which allowed more oxygen to fuel the flames.

Roughly 150 volunteers from seven fire departments and two local ambulance corps responded to the blaze, which could be seen spouting black smoke out over the Atlantic Ocean from miles away.

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