A woman and her adult son escaped a house fire in Aquebogue unharmed Monday before the house on Meeting House Creek Road became “fully involved” with flames, emergency officials said.
Fire officials said the emergency call was received about 1:30 p.m., after a neighbor saw smoke coming out of a window.
“There’s heat, fire coming out of every opening,” Riverhead Fire Department press officer Bill Sanok said shortly after firefighters arrived on scene.
As of 3 p.m., the fire was out in most of the house but was still active in the attic, Mr. Sanok said.
Riverhead police Lt. David Lessard said the homeowner told police she had smelled “fuel oil” earlier in the day and was inside the house with her son when the fire broke out. The two ran off the property as smoke engulfed the home and watched on through the afternoon as firefighters battled the blaze.
An employee of the nearby Lighthouse Marina said he saw the smoke and then heard a woman screaming. She then emerged from the house yelling for her pets, he said.
“It just got worse and worse,” the man said of the fire.
Lt. Lessard said an initial investigation found there were 19 domestic cats living in the home.
One Riverhead police officer who arrived on the scene, Charlie Silleck, was able to break a basement window and free one of the cats that was loose, Lt. Lessard said. The fate of the other cats is unknown, he said.
Jamesport Fire Department’s Rapid Intervention team also responded to the scene to assist.
Highway superintendent George “Gio” Woodson arrived on scene with heavy equipment about 3:15 p.m. to knock down the building, which was deemed unsafe. Firefighters were still on the scene of the fire at 5 p.m.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Riverhead Fire Marshals, Lt. Lessard said.