A waterfront home in Seaford was destroyed by a fast-moving fire on Thursday night, and the blaze threatened to spread as a boat ignited, broke loose and traveled down the canal.
The Seaford Fire Department was called to 3959 South St. at about 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 7. Fire Chief Paul Lochner said the home was already engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived.
About 150 firefighters fought the blaze, and it took about two hours to bring it under control. Units remained on the scene until after 2 a.m.
Much of the home collapsed. By Friday morning, there were only two of the four walls remaining, and the roof was gone. Town of Hempstead Building Department officials were on site to determine if the structure was safe. Engineers ultimately determined that the house would have to be torn down, and that was expected to take place Friday afternoon.
Lochner said because of the intensity of the blaze, firefighters had to fight it from the outside. Only one fire truck could get near the house because the street is very narrow. Siding melted on a pair of adjacent homes. “The challenge was keeping it from spreading to the two houses,” Lochner said.
A boat that was next the to house caught fire and when the ropes burned away, it began floating south in the canal. Waterfront residents on both sides sprayed it with their garden hoses as it went by.
The boat ended up against a bulkhead on the Massapequa side, about two blocks south, where it was extinguished by firefighters. On Lincoln Place in Massapequa, a fire truck set up at the end of the block to blast water onto the side of the home, which was right up against the canal and inaccessible to firefighters on the Seaford side. Wantagh’s fire boat was also put into action.
Additional assistance was provided by the North Bellmore and North Massapequa fire departments.
Walter Laybourne, who lives directly across the canal from the home, was returning from playing racquetball at Seaman’s Neck Park as the house was ablaze. “When I turned the corner, all I saw was the sparks flying in the air,” he said, fearing initially that it was his home.
Laybourne said he has never seen a fire that intense. “This thing was like a burning inferno,” he said. “The firemen were very good. They got it under control.”