On Saturday night, Jan. 18, Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department responded to a fire in a 5,000+ square foot house located at 32 Stone Hill Drive South in Stone Hill Development, a gated community on Shelter Rock Rd.
The initial call came at 8:05 p.m, according to officials. Multiple units arrived on the scene within minutes and located a fire in the basement of a single family residence.
According to sources, the call was issued from the owners, who were outside the home when firefighters arrived.
Multiple hose lines were stretched in an attempt to extinguish the well-advanced fire, however, after no more than ten minutes, the first floor began to sag and show signs of collapse. Firefighters were ordered to evacuate the structure immediately due to the possibility of collapse.
“Not even a minute after the last members exited the front door of the house, the large front foyer fully collapsed into the basement and was engulfed in flames,” said Deputy Chief Kirk Candan.
Eventually, the rest of the first floor failed and collapsed into the basement, followed by the rest of the house. Three ladder trucks with large-caliber water streams and multiple hose lines operated for hours to bring the fire under control. According to Roger Goodwin, Commissioner of 8th Battalion, “400,000 gallons of water was put on it.”
Mutual aid came from Port Washington, Great Neck Alert, Great Neck Vigilant, Albertson, Plandome and Mineola Fire Departments. Several other department provided standby coverage for the Manhasset-Lakeville firehouses as well. Units were released from the scene at 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning. One engine and ladder remained on the scene with rotating crews until about 12:30 p.m. Sunday performing a “watch-line” in the event of a rekindle. The incident commander was Chief of Department Christopher Pisani.
“This house was built in 1999 and contained what is called ‘light weight wood construction’, which is what the majority of new homes are built with nowadays. Light weight wood construction is known in the fire service as ‘the firefighter killer’ as it is normally very strong and sturdy, except under a fire load,” Candan said. “Many firefighters have died as a result of this light weight wood construction.”
Candan explained that “under a fire load, light-weight wood construction fails somewhere within the range of 8-10 minutes, which is the time most fire department units are arriving on the scene. By ‘fail,’ I mean collapses without a great deal of notice.”
The source of the fire was unknown. According to Goodwin it may be tough to determine. The fire is currently under investigation by the Nassau County Fire Marshals office. As of press time, the fire marshal’s office had not responded to requests for comment.