Riverhead Police and the Riverhead fire marshal are investigating a fire that destroyed an abandoned house in Riverhead in the middle of the night last night.
A passing motorist reported the fire at about 1:50 a.m., police said. The motorist thought it was a possible vehicle fire in the area behind Dairyland Ice Cream on the south side of Main Road in Riverhead.
Responding officers and firefighters found a house fully engulfed in flames when they arrived on scene.
The house is a long-vacant structure set back in the woods and was difficult for firefighters to access because the driveway was overgrown and blocked by trees and brush, Riverhead Fire Chief Kevin Brooks said in an interview this morning. It was one of three small homes set back in the woods off Main Road, just west of County Road 105.
The fire department had to use a brush truck to gain full access to the structure, the chief said.
Frigid temperatures along with live electrical lines complicated the firefighting operation, Brooks said. “Wires were popping and sparking until we got PSEG there to shut down the power,” he said.
The house was unoccupied, he said. Firefighters conducted a thorough search of the area to be sure there was no one in or near the house, he said.
Riverhead Fire Marshal David Andruskiewicz said this morning he does not believe the fire to be suspicious in origin.
“I am looking at a downed tree striking the electric wires and in turn ripping the service off the side of the structure and setting the fire,” Andruskiewicz said. The incident remains under investigation.
About 50 firefighters responded to the alarm, Brooks said. Flanders Fire Department stood by at Riverhead’s headquarters.