STREAM OF SUFFOLK COUNTY PRESS CONFERENCE. STAY WITH US FOR THE CONTINUING STORY.
The massive Ridge-Manorville brush fire that has burned several houses and consumed more than 2,000 acres since it broke out this afternoon is still out of control, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and fire officials at a Monday evening press conference held close to the blaze.
Flanked by government and fire officials, including Ridge Fire Department 1st Assistant Chief Steve Gray and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, Bellone said that three Manorville firefighters had been injured. One firefighter was admitted to Stony Brook University Medical Center for first- and second-degree burns, while two were treated and released for smoke inhalation.
Bellone said that two homes and one commercial building were destroyed by the fire, and two other residences were still burning. A fire truck that was with the three injured Manorville firefighters was also destroyed.
“This is most serious fire incident we’ve had since the ’95 wildfires,” Bellone added. “A lot of the lessons learned from ’95 will certainly be utilized.”
“Several hundred acres are burning right now,” Gray told reporters at around 8 p.m. “Unfortunately with the high winds, we weren’t able to get hold of the fire.”
Bellone added that his administration has been in touch with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Office of Emergency Management and that the state National Guard is on standby. As darkness fell, he said that operations had shifted from battling the fire to moving emergency personnel out of harm’s way and containing the blaze.
The Riverhead Police Department announced that they have begun evacuating homes on Oakwood Drive in Wading River. A mandatory evacuation was already in effect for the area of Wading River Manorville Road and Schultz Road (East) to Edwards Avenue and from Peconic River (North) to Grumman Boulevard. An emergency shelter has been set up in the Riverhead Senior Center, located on 60 Shade Tree Lane. Residents can contact the shelter at 631-722-4444 ext. 0.
The Suffolk SPCA has set up a unit at the Riverhead shelter where pets can stay.
The fire has already disrupted train service. The 9:44 p.m. train from Greenport to Ronkonkoma is canceled. The Long Island Rail Road will provide bus service instead. This comes after there was a report of fire on the railroad tracks. According to the Long Island Power Authority, 236 homes were without power.
Bellone urged residents to only use 911 for emergencies and not to call seeking information on the fire. He urged people to stay as far away as they can from the blaze.
The conflagration came as the Upton-based National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Alert for Long Island, meaning the area is at heightened risk for brush fires because of low humidity and high winds.
Gray stated that the inferno began as two separate fires in Manorville and Ridge before merging into one. He said it has been moving in a Southeast direction and that its cause is not yet known.