In their first house fire of 2014, Montauk firefighters put a quick stop Tuesday evening to a blaze that was rapidly spreading.
Montauk Fire Department Chief Joe Lenahan and the department’s first and second assistant chiefs, Dutch Riege and Vinny Franzone, were hosting an East Hampton Town Chiefs Association meeting at their firehouse when the alarm sounded at 7:13 p.m. for a fire in a basement at 8 Adams Drive, in the Mirror Development.
Ed Ecker, the former East Hampton Town police chief who is acting as the department’s public information officer since retiring, said the chiefs and about eight firemen who were helping to serve the dinner, himself among them, immediately responded to the fire. They were on the scene within seven minutes.
The chiefs confirmed a working structure fire in the basement. Flames had already spread into soffits. Photographs show smoke billowing out of the one-story house. “They put a very good stop to it,” Mr. Ecker said. Even so, he said Chief Lenahan estimated about 80 percent of the house suffered smoke damage.
About 50 firefighters altogether responded with eight pieces of apparatus, Mr. Ecker said. No one was reported hurt. Two cats died, according to Tom Baker, an East Hampton fire marshal. It was unclear if anyone had been inside when the fire broke out.
The fire started in a legal basement apartment, Mr. Baker said. He believed an overloaded extension cord was the cause. “It was an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
Mr. Ecker said the fire was believed to have started in the basement. The East Hampton Town Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause.
The majority of the department was put back in service within an hour of the initial call, and the chiefs returned to hosting the monthly meeting of the association. “The other chiefs were very gracious to wait to eat until the Montauk chiefs returned,” Mr. Ecker said.