EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nearly a dozen pleasure boats owned by Long Island families were destroyed or damaged in a devastating marina fire at the height of summer vacation season.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, boat owners in East Patchogue rushed to the marina for a first glance and were overcome with emotion.
“I’m just devastated. It is like losing your home,” one owner said.
It was their first in person glance after seeing photos and videos posted by concerned neighbors on social media.
The blaze at Patchogue Shores Marina raged out of control — sparked by high winds which made it difficult for responders who had difficulty in maneuvering to reach the threatened watercraft.
“This is a mess, they’re spraying water the best they can, all the boats are on fire,” a resident said in a video captured by a drone sent up over Richie Wright’s house.
It showed dense smoke and boat after boat catching fire in the popular South Shore yacht basin.
“This is our home, this is where we spend our summers, and hang out and socialize, and make family memories,” Maria Rodriguez said.
Marina owner David Kazmark was grateful no one was seriously injured.
“They saved my business, they saved my building; saved gas tanks from going up,” he said.
“It was tough, it was windy, difficulty getting our fireboat into this small cove here,” Patchogue fire chief, Nick Greco said.
Several firefighters were briefly hospitalized after inhaling chemicals from the charred boats constructed with fiberglass. The blaze left melted plastic everywhere.
“First off our main concern is pollution aspect,” Jake Hill, U.S. Coast Guard said.
Nearby neighbors were issued code red for several hours keeping them indoors with instructions to clear airborne debris from windows or doors.
Arson squad detectives said while the cause remains undetermined, it appears non-criminal.
The fire may have started in one boat, and spread.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation was on site Wednesday monitoring the cleanup.