Firefighters from at least four departments helped quell a house fire on Church Lane Friday afternoon.
Riverhead police notified local fire departments about the fire in Aquebogue about 3:30 p.m.
Police Lt. Sean Egan said a woman was in a barn on the property when the fire broke out inside the house. The woman returned to find the fire alarm going off and saw smoke, Lt. Egan said. She grabbed a phone, called 911 and fled the house.
The woman’s parents, who live at the house, weren’t home at the time of the fire, he said.
Lt. Egan said three cats were also inside the house, but firefighters haven’t found them yet.
Riverhead and Jamesport Fire Department volunteers fought the blaze, with Flanders and Mattituck firefighters assisting, said Riverhead Fire Department information officer Bill Sanok. Wading River firefighters are on standby, he added.
As many as 70 firefighters were on the scene.
“Every time they opened a window, smoke flew out,” said neighbor Claire Chapman.
Ms. Chapman said it was awful to see her neighbors suffer such a loss.
“These people lost their home in five minutes,” she said. “It’s the most heartbreaking experience to see the family across from their house that just burned. I’ve never witnessed that kind of tragedy [before.]”
Mr. Sanok said the home suffered “a lot of damage.” It was an old farmhouse with some additions, he said, which may have made the fire worse due to the insulation catching fire.
Church Lane was closed in both directions as a Riverhead fire marshal investigated, police said.
Photo Credits: Chris Lisinski