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Feb 14, 2012 2:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Fire Marshals Are Still Investigating Cause Of Hampton Bays Blaze

Feb 14, 2012 4:51 PM

Officials still do not know the cause of a fire that gutted part of a three-story house in Hampton Bays last Thursday afternoon, though Southampton Town Fire Marshal John Rankin said this week that investigators have ruled out arson.

Sixty-one firefighters from four local fire departments responded to the blaze after flames had already engulfed half of the house at 33 Ponquogue Avenue, located on the corner of Ponquogue and Fanning avenues, creating a huge plume of black smoke that slowly made its way south. All three apartments in the house were occupied at the time of the fire, which was reported to Southampton Town Police at 3:12 p.m., but all occupants escaped without injury, according to Mr. Rankin. It wasn’t clear how many people were home at the time of the fire.

Hampton Bays Fire Department Chief John Tedesco, who was one of the first to arrive on the scene, said that he, another volunteer firefighter and a third person later identified as retired Fire Department of New York firefighter Chris Raymos conducted a preliminary search of the house before the fire trucks arrived. Mr. Tedesco said they were able to confirm that all occupants had already fled the building before he ordered a mandatory evacuation until additional help could arrive.

While they were inside the burning building, one of the house’s tenants reentered the home to save a pet. The unidentified older man could be seen climbing out of a second-floor window while carrying what appeared to be a small black dog in his arms while he made his away across the first-floor roof. He climbed down from the roof with the assistance of firefighters; Mr. Tedesco said the man was never in any immediate danger.

“The man had a little black dog and he jumped off the roof,” said Ryan Murphy, a Hampton Bays High School student who spotted the smoke while walking in the area. “The firemen rescued him.”

Donny White, another Hampton Bays High School student, said that he and several friends were at the nearby Starbucks when they spotted the large cloud of black smoke off in the distance.

An unidentified Hampton Bays firefighter was transported to Southampton Hospital after complaining of chest discomfort while conducting an exterior check of the house, according to fire officials and Southampton Town Police. Mr. Tedesco said the firefighter was held overnight for observation. An update of his condition was not immediately available.

A second Hampton Bays firefighter also had to be taken to the hospital after he fell back at the firehouse while moving equipment, according to the fire chief. The firefighter, who suffered a rib injury, was taken to Southampton Hospital and released later the same day, Mr. Tedesco said.

According to Mr. Rankin, two vehicles parked in the driveway of the home, next to the house, were destroyed in the fire. He added that investigators think that the fire started outside the home before spreading to the building. More than half of the house, which is no longer habitable, sustained damage and the back section of the structure collapsed, Mr. Rankin said.

Witnesses reported hearing several muffled explosions while firefighters worked to knock down the flames while utilizing a pair of tower ladders. Fire officials later explained that the explosions were caused by household chemicals. Mr. Rankin added that a propane tank located to the back of the house exploded, as did the tires of both cars parked next to the house at the time.

Town records list John J. Desch as the owner of the house, which is zoned for multiple residences.

Mr. Desch did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Firefighters with the Hampton Bays, East Quogue, Southampton Village and Flanders fire departments all responded to the fire, which was deemed under control within 30 minutes. Firefighters remained on the scene for approximately two-and-a-half hours and sections of both Ponquogue and Fanning avenues were closed to traffic during that time. The Hampton Bays and Flanders-Northampton ambulance companies also responded to the scene, while members of the Quogue Fire Department were on standby at the Hampton Bays firehouse until the scene was cleared.

“The fire department did an excellent job,” Mr. Rankin said on Tuesday. “Considering the age of the building and how it was constructed, they were able to save a good portion of the residence.”

Staff writer Loren Christie contributed to this story.

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Why would they tell a hero to get lost I don't get it? Thank you Mr Raymos for caring
By 27dan (2811), Southampton on Feb 9, 12 4:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
I think your reporter should do more research and get the complete story. From what I heard, Mr. Raymos was accompanied by at least one HBFD Chief to the second floor calling out to a possible occupant and was told to retreat from same when conditions were deteriating as they did not have the proper gear on, a fire truck was approaching with firefighters and supposedly all occupents were accounted for. Great job by local fd's...
By baymen 09 (1), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 12 9:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
Great job by local fd's... How about great job by everyone. Mr Raymos included. I will not let you dismiss his act of bravery. Who ever he is he deserves a lot of credit. Why cant you just agree the man is a hero.
And of coarse great job as always HBFD!
By 27dan (2811), Southampton on Feb 9, 12 10:19 PM
3 members liked this comment
Pretty sure he wasnt wearing the proper gear.....He was told to leave so they wouldnt have to rescue him in the event he was overcome by smoke.....
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Feb 9, 12 4:43 PM
I am pretty sure it was a cat, not a dog, not that it matters because luckily they got out. The house went up pretty fast and the flames were intense. HBFD did a real good job.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 12 5:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great job HBFD.
It was a dog. He walks him daily.
By nashnut (1), Hampton Bays on Feb 10, 12 1:38 AM
Excellent reporting!
By PBR (4952), Southampton on Feb 9, 12 7:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
great job guys!!
By HBFDexplorerpost750 (2), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 12 7:50 PM
great job guys!!
By HBFDexplorerpost750 (2), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 12 7:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
Congrats to the Hampton Bays Fire Department and Chief Tedesco for a job well done. Thank you for giving good advice to Retired FDNY Chris Ramos for trying to make a gallant effort without the necessary protective equipment. You are both heroes.
By long beach lover (1), Long Island on Feb 10, 12 12:40 AM
2 members liked this comment
I do not think the professional fireman needed advice from the volunteers, lol the man is a hero and should be congratulated. it seems Dan has touched on a nerve here.
By They call me (2790), southampton on Feb 10, 12 10:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
I do not want to imply that our local boys do not do an amazing job. Just that some people here seem a bit egocentric not to give credit where credit is due. This professional 911 fire fighter Raymos saved lives yesterday. For gods sake lets not just dismiss him. seems very distasteful
By They call me (2790), southampton on Feb 10, 12 11:13 AM
congratulations to the HBFD for excellent work.
By joan s (53), hampton bays on Feb 10, 12 7:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
That was quick. But nothing on the scandal plagued property in Water Mill huh?
By TianarRob (10), Southampton on Feb 10, 12 9:48 AM
"They Call Me Now" just so you know, the volunteers Are Professionals, they are just unpaid professionals. I don't see anywhere that Mr Ramos is being dismissed. He is also a hero. And to 27dan nobody told Mr Ramos to get lost, at some point you need to get out of the building when conditions get too bad.
By BigL11946 (29), Hampton Bays on Feb 10, 12 12:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps everyone would be happy if the reporter amended his story to read...

Chris Raymos, a retired Fire Department of New York firefighter, was on the scene right after the fire broke out and conducted a search of the second floor of the home before being told to leave for his own safety by the Hampton Bays Fire Department, ....
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Feb 10, 12 2:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
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