Cutchogue family rescued from basement fire at height of storm

COURTESY PHOTO | The Cutchogue Fire Department rescued a family from a basement fire Friday night during the blizzard.

A Cutchogue family had to be rescued from its basement Friday night after a transformer wire broke, sparking a fire, Cutchogue Fire Chief Dave Fohrkolb said.

At about 10:30 last night, Cutchogue Fire Department received word of smoke in a residence on Tuthill Road, Mr. Fohrkolb said.

The family — two adults, two small children and their dog — were safely rescued from the home, as volunteer firefighters made their way to the basement, Mr. Fohrkolb said.

“We stretched a hand line into the basement,” he said. “We were able to extinguish the fire within 5-10 minutes.

“It was textbook, we had the crew available,” Mr. Fohrkolb added. “We keep an engine and an ambulance crew standing by in case something like this happens, and for good reason, because we know snow is going to delay us.”

About 36 volunteers made it to the scene. Their work wasn’t done yet, when the realized other homes could be at risk as well, the chief said.

A primary wire from a transformer pole had broken, and it “energized” a Cablevision wire going into the home, Mr. Fohrkolb said. The Cablevision wire was also going into other people’s homes, he said.

“Because of the transformer, we had to go to every house, door to door, to have them shut their electric off,” Mr. Fohrkolb said. “It can definitely cause a fire without a doubt.”

The broken wire affected 10 homes in all, he said.

“It doesn’t happen often. It’s one of those things when you have a storm that you have to worry about. If a wire comes down the wrong way it can energize other wires going into homes.”

The whole operation took about two hours, he said.

Within a half hour Long Island Power Authority was on scene to repair the wire, Mr. Fohrkolb said.

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COURTESY PHOTO  |  Cutchogue firefighters faced brutal conditions last night during a rescue.
COURTESY PHOTO | Cutchogue firefighters faced brutal conditions last night during a rescue.