(After reading this story and watching the incredible video, please take a look at our note that follows-regarding this Fire Chief-Thanks!)
Outside of New York City, and just south of Long Island, is a barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean called Fire Island. During the summer, pretty much from Memorial Day thru Labor Day it is a very popular beach resort made up of over a dozen communities. It’s 31 miles long and about 1000′ wide. The winter population of the entire island-all communities combined-is about 300 people. During the summer, thousand of people live in and visit the beach community and get there by boat. One cannot drive to (or on) Fire Island.
Within some of those communities, there are well staffed and trained volunteer fire and EMS departments. It should be noted that generally no cars are permitted on Fire Island (except emergency vehicles) as it is part of the Federal National Seashore, and their fire and EMS apparatus is designed to meet the unique challenges that they protect. The volunteer members are alerted by radio, pager, smart phone alerting (IamResponding & Active911) as well as through outdoor warning sirens.
Here are a few samples of of those departments and their unique apparatus:
One of those communities is Ocean Bay Park.
On October 17, last week, they (the entire Long Island and Fire Island region) were under Nor’Easter conditions with several feet of flooding water, 40 mph winds, wires down and just about every challenge you can imagine-especially since this time of year, there are not many people-or firefighters around. It’s no surprise. It’s a known fact. It’s how it is. It’s desolate except a few families and people in each community who are there year round.
Thankfully due to the progressive planning by the Fire Island Chiefs Association, there are “Island wide” automatic mutual aid plans that also include departments from the “mainland” of Suffolk County (Long Island) by boat-and with fire boats.
One of the challenges they have “off season” (staffing being the most critical) is that fires actually have to be discovered-and then reported-so the response can function. Remember, in some areas there may literally be no one around and some fires have been reported from the mainland, by police patrol or whatever way you can imagine. That’s how it is.
So back to last weeks fire.
The owner of a hotel/condo in Ocean Bay Park and has a very sophisticated security system. And because the system is what it is-it actually video taped the fire from the start.
At 47 seconds you see a flash – when the live electric wires broke away from the house on the left and sparked. At 2 minutes 47 seconds the fire is advanced enough that a homeowner would not have been able to extinguish it with a garden hose…and the fire continues to take off.
For you investigators out there, the Fire Marshall believes that the electric box (and meter etc) attached to house on the bay side of the house was dislodged and banging into the house. Though the power was shut off to the house, the wires on the outside of the meter are live. They began sparking and fire ensued.
A senior member of the community woke up and saw the brightness, and called 9-1-1 and Suffolk County Fire Communications transmitted the alarm. If she hadn’t woken up, the fire had the very real potential of spreading to numerous homes and businesses.
The Seashore Condo & Motel has a fire alarm system but it would have taken until the motel was on fire. Thankfully, due to the conditions, the hotel suffered no damage-but did provide some phenomenal video.
HERE is the video, you will hear the Ocean Bay Park fire siren sound at about the 10 minute mark.
Here is dramatic footage of the fire that occured in OBP on 10/17/19 that we have edited together to show exactly what…
MEDIA ARTICLES & PHOTOS FROM THE FIRE:
A N D P L E A S E N O T E:
While this fire was burning, the Fire Chief of the Ocean Bay Park Fire Department was not there. That morning he left the island for a significant surgery as part of a cancer battle he is fighting.
IF you find the video of interest and have gained from it, THERE IS A LONG SLEEVE WINTER T-SHIRT FUNDRAISER for OBP Fire Chief Mike Horton going on right now-and your help is needed. While he did have surgery, he has more chemo ahead and at least another surgery. Your purchase of a shirt would be a great way to help support Chief Mike Horton, who, under normal circumstances would have been the first arriving Chief-as it the fire was literally around the corner from his own home-which was not damaged.
PLEASE HELP OUT AND PURCHASE A VERY COOL LONG SLEEVE T-SHIRT TO HELP OBP-Fire Island Fire Chief Mike Horton:
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass it On.