FIRE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A massive fire tore through several homes in the middle of the night on Fire Island.
The blaze broke out in a home on Ocean Walk in the Pines Section of the island around 1 a.m. Friday and quickly spread.
Nearly 100 firefighters from Fire Island and the main land responded. The first firefighters on scene quickly realized the battle they were facing.
“Huge fire, it’s a huge fire everybody. We have one house fully involved, second house is about to catch,” one firefighter can be heard saying on radio transmissions between emergency responders.
Cellphone video captured the sound of propane tanks erupting as the fire quickly spread.
“I heard the crackling sound like Jiffy popcorn, and I saw the glow so I walked out and you just heard the explosions,” Fire Island resident Phillip Ferrraro. “All the propane tanks were exploding, like four or five explosions.”
The propane tanks, combined with strong winds and wooden structures helped fuel the flames.
“We were trying to get ahead of it and have crews moving propane cylinders away from the fire scene, even the houses not affected because that’s how fast the fire was moving,” said Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Geiman.
Flames destroyed as many as four homes, and damaged others.
“Wind did play a factor, a big factor, and that was the cause that spread the fire real quick to the other houses,” Ocean Beach Fire Chief Ian Levine said.
As CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported, Levine said some residents even used garden hoses to try to protect their homes.
“When I was on the roof and I couldn’t see anymore that’s when I was like ‘OK, we gotta get out of here,'” said resident Robert Weber. “Embers were just flying, it was crazy.”
“As the embers fell, people were putting them out and putting buckets of water from the pools,” Ferraro said.
The smoldering heaps of ash serve as a frightening reminder of the dangers longtime residents say is a constant concern for those who live on the island.
“Everyone knows what can happen,” Weber said.
“We live with a fear of fire every day,” resident Stephen Daniello said.
At least two firefighters sustained minor injuries. One suffered minor smoke inhalation, the other an ankle injury.
No one was in the house where the fire started and everyone else escaped unharmed.
Officials are trying to pinpoint the origin of the flames.