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Southold home damaged by late night fire; two people inside rescued

Two people were safely rescued from a Hortons Lane home when a fire broke out on the porch Thursday evening and quickly began to spread from strong winds.

A homeowner and her brother who were inside the home were examined by EMTs but were not treated for any serious injuries, according to Southold Fire Chief Craig Goldsmith. A pet cat also made it out of the home safely.

Stephanie Pinerio and Merv Jones, who live next door, heard a noise they initially suspected was their dryer in their basement. As Mr. Jones checked the basement, Ms. Pinerio went to the kitchen and they saw the fire simultaneously.

As Ms. Pinerio started to dial 911, Mr. Jones said a Southold patrol officer was already driving past and the officer raced inside. He said he saw the officer pull two people out of the back of the house.

“He went straight in and got them out,” said Mr. Jones, who has lived on Hortons Lane for about two years after moving from Greenport.

Southold police Chief Martin Flatley said highway patrol officer Pete Onufrak spotted the fire while on patrol and assisted the occupants.

The fire started on the porch. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Mr. Jones said he first saw a chair on the porch on fire. Strong winds quickly spread the fire throughout the porch.

They said they were scared the fire could spread to their house, especially since the trees were so close between the two properties.

“It was so scary, it was terrifying,” Ms. Pinerio said.

The Southold Fire Department received the call around 10 p.m., Mr. Goldsmith said.

As firefighters arrived, Mr. Goldsmith said the front of the structure was fully involved.

He said the home is an old wooden structure and many of the interior doors were shut when the fire began.

“That made a really big difference in keeping the fire contained to the front of the house,” Mr. Goldsmith said.

Mr. Jones said the damage could have been worse if not for a closed door that separated the front and back of the house.

“Anything past that front room, if you open the door, you would never know there was a fire,” he said.

The damage was largely contained to the front of the home. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Another neighbor described hearing what sounded like gunshots at first before realizing a nearby house was on fire.

Fire department officials remained on scene for approximately two hours to ensure hotspots were swiftly extinguished, the chief said.

Mr. Goldsmith praised the first responders for their efforts at containing the flames.

“They did a great job at slowing the progression and knocking the body of the fire down,” he said.

He indicated that the cause of the fire appears to be accidental but noted that Southold Police detectives are investigating the cause.

“They did some interviewing, and it doesn’t appear to be suspicious,” Mr. Goldsmith said.

Neighbors said the house has a second floor apartment in the back as well. That did not appear to sustain damage.

Firefighters from the Greenport and Cutchogue Fire Departments assisted. About 60 firefighters responded to the scene.

Top photo caption: The front of the home engulfed in flames Thursday night. (Credit: Courtesy of Southold Fire Department)

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