The Southampton Town fire marshal’s office confirmed on Tuesday that a Friday night fire that gutted an abandoned house in Eastport appears to have been intentionally set.
Fire Marshal Chris Hansen said the blaze that destroyed the two-story house at 267 Old Country Road was not accidental, though he quickly added that investigators are not ready to label the fire as arson.
“All accidental causes have been ruled out,” Mr. Hansen said in a phone interview on Tuesday morning. “It is still under investigation with our office and the town detectives office.”
Southampton Town Police are investigating the blaze, and Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa said on Tuesday that officials are running tests to determine if an accelerant was used to start the fire. She noted that the house, which has sat vacant for at least four years, was not connected to power and noted that investigators are trying to determine if squatters had been living inside the house at the time of the fire. Francis “Bud” Mazura, a spokesman for the Eastport Fire Department, which responded to the blaze, said Wednesday that fire officials do not know if squatters were living inside the building.
According to Mr. Hansen, Town Police received a call at 7:46 p.m. on Friday alerting officers about a structure fire in Eastport. Over the weekend, Mr. Mazura said that upon arriving at the scene, firefighters found a fully involved fire at an approximately 6,000-square-foot house located just west of Tuttle Avenue.
The blaze, according to Mr. Hansen, was under control by midnight, though firefighters had to return to the scene at around 1 a.m. on Saturday to extinguish a small portion of the roof that had reignited.
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, and it is believed that the house has been vacant for several years.
Town property records list Michael Gabrielli as the most recent owner of the house, which sits on 1.4 acres. It says he purchased the house in March 2004; it was not immediately clear if Mr. Gabrielli still owns it.
Members of the East Moriches and Westhampton Beach fire departments assisted Eastport firefighters in battling the blaze, and the Manorville Fire Department was on standby at the Eastport Firehouse. The Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance Corps also responded to the scene.