The Commack Fire Department is among 109 fire departments in Suffolk County called to help battle the raging brush fires in the Ridge area. Commack Assistant Chief Peter Paccione said Commack had one engine report to assist, led by Commack Chief Kerian Keane.
"You’ve got some heavily wooded areas burnt out and a couple of homes. It was pretty intense," Paccione said, adding as he returned at 10 p.m. Monday, "But it’s looks like they are starting to get it under control."
Commack firefighters were asked to assist by keeping vigilant watch over several hot spots, making sure fires did not flare up. Several members were directly involved in helping extinguish local residents' homes and sheds.
Paccione called it a "severe situation," and said by his estimate that there were four to five homes burnt when he left the scene.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone warned locals that as darkness has fallen, the dangers surround the raging brush fires in Ridge have grown – and it could be days before the fires are extinguished.
"This a rapidly shifting situation," Bellone said at a press conference Monday night, urging people to stay as far away from the scene as possible to let firefighters do their work. "This fire could go on for some time."
Three firefighters have been injured and treated at the Stony Brook University Burn center; one has been admitted with 2nd and 3rd degree burns.
No fatalities have been reported.
The 106th Air National Guard is on standby and ready to assist, as are state police. The goal, Bellone, is to make sure no firefighter is put in danger by an aerial water drop.
According to a release issued by the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, the fire broke out at the Laboratory in the northern portion of the site, east of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collidor complex. Officials said the laboratory's sewage treatment plant was evacuated as a precaution. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Two Manorville residences and one commercial building have been destroyed, and two additional homes are still on fire. The situation Bellone said is "as serious as it gets," the most serious brush fires since 1995.
Currently, 236 homes are without power and the county is coordinating with the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid.
The Primrose Path area of Manorville has also been evacuated.
Fires are still not contained and are moving in a southeasterly direction. It is not yet clear how the fires started.
A Manorville fire truck was destroyed in the blaze.
Bellone asked that residents do not call 911 unless it is an emergency as phone systems are overloaded.