Police: Electrical problem sparked fatal fire in Mattituck

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Tuesday, June 24, to reflect the fact that the Southold Town police and building departments are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the fatal fire.

Investigators say the Mattituck fire that claimed a 51-year-old man’s life Friday night was caused by an electrical problem.

According to the Suffolk County Arson Squad, the fire that destroyed four storefronts near Love Lane began in the victim’s apartment.

Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said this week that the department is still investigating the fire as well, though he did not believe it to be suspicious.

Southold building department officials are also investigating, town officials said.

A neighbor who lived next door to the building that burned Friday night shot eight minutes worth of video before her family was evacuated. The footage, which was shot by Keila Nieves and sent to The Suffolk Times by a family friend, was recorded after the victim, 51-year-old Paul Mittleman, was removed from the burning building.

Mr. Mittleman, who lived in an apartment above the four stores destroyed in the fire, was pronounced dead at the scene following a rescue effort from the property owner, a fire chief and a police officer.

The neighbors were evacuated from their house moments after the recording of this video, one of three the neighbor shot.

The audio has been removed.

(Credit: Andrew Lepre courtesy) The aftermath of the Friday night fire.
(Credit: Andrew Lepre courtesy) The aftermath of the Friday night fire.