The blaze that destroyed three houses in Ocean Bay Park during the early morning hours on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 has taken its toll on the psyche of Fire Island. Still emerging from the devastation that rocked much of Long Island and the Northeast coast with high tidal surges from subtropical storm Melissa the raged offshore as the full moon approached, flood waters were just starting to recede from Fire Island communities a week later when another nor’easter came around. Winds remained fierce when the fire erupted on Bayview Walk at approximately 2 a.m.
“We had two calls earlier that night which turned out to be nothing,” said one Ocean Bay Park Fire Department Captain who was on the scene. “But I looked out my window and saw that ball of fire and it was so frightening.”
According to the OBPFD Captain’s account, two neighboring bayside houses became totally engulfed in flames with rapid speed – one of which was of fairly recent construction. Fire hose lines were barley visible in the murky floodwaters as first responders struggled to gain ground. The third adjacent structure was taken diagonally across the way as wind-driven embers traveled before the fire could be contained.
Yet among the devastation Herculean efforts were evident. In spite of cautionary travel advisories announced hours head of the storm on Wednesday afternoon, Fire Island Ferries, Inc. would transport dozens of firefighters from several mainland fire companies across the bay in choppy waters to lend mutual aid alongside neighboring Fire Island departments. Patch.com reported that Islip Fire Department traveled across the bay in their company’s fireboat, but could not land in the Ocean Bay Park basin due to storm conditions and had to be rerouted to the Ocean Beach ferry terminal.
While cause of the fire remains under investigation, arcing wires from power lines or a similar electric malfunction episode is suspected as the likely root origin. No injuries to firefighters or civilians have been reported.
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