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Large fire damages boatyard buildings overnight in Southold

Members of the Suffolk County Police Arson Squad are investigating a fire that destroyed a large storage building and garage in Southold early Thursday morning.

According to Southold Fire Department chief Peggy Killian, responders were dispatched to the fire at the end of Hobart Road shortly after 3 a.m. 

“It was fully involved when we got there,” the chief said in an interview Thursday, noting that the call had initially come across as a boat fire.

Ms. Killian, who lives just a few blocks from where the fire broke out, said she initially mistook the heavy smoke in the air for fog. “I thought we had a heavy fog going until I took a whiff,” she said. “So it had to have been going for a while.”

Firefighters responded around 3 a.m. (Credit: Patrice Mackesy Conklin)

Approximately 50 volunteers from Southold Fire Department responded to the scene and Ms. Killian said Cutchogue Fire Department was also called in for backup.

Officials suspect the fire started in a steel and wood storage building in the boatyard and then spread to a residential garage and vehicle on the property.

“You could see it spreading,” Ms. Killian said, adding that volunteers worked quickly to ensure the fire didn’t spread to the home near the garage, which a neighbor said is a summer home that’s currently unoccupied.

The neighbor described waking up around 3 a.m. to hearing “two huge explosions” and saw “shooting flames” erupting from the building when they ran outside.

Because the fire was so involved when responders arrived, Ms. Killian was unable to determine what sparked the flames, but said that between lacquer products and propane tanks that were stored in the building, it may have been spontaneous.

“All the walls collapsed in,” she said. “Now you have to try and find what was in there.”

Firefighters remained at the scene until nearly 6 a.m. before securing the scene and ensuring hotspots were contained. No injuries or exhaustion were reported, Ms. Killian said. “It all went well. No one got hurt and everybody made it home and that’s what counts.”

The aftermath of the fire Thursday morning. (Credit: Southold Fire Department)