Riverhead volunteer firefighters battled an overnight blaze at a trucking company on Route 58 near Tanger Outlets early this morning.
The alarm came in at about 2:16 a.m. for a structure fire at the J&H Transfer Inc. facility at 2031 Old Country Road, adjacent to the Speedway gas station. It was called in to Riverhead Town Police by a Suffolk County street sweeper passing by, according to an officer at the scene.
“There was a very heavy fire load inside the building when we arrived at the scene,” Riverhead Fire Chief Kevin Brooks said this morning.
Flanders and Wading River fire departments each responded to the scene with an engine, Brooks said, and Jamesport Fire Department stood by at Riverhead’s Roanoke Avenue headquarters.
About 80 firefighters battled the fire for more than two hours, Brooks said.
“I really appreciate all the a hard work the men and women who responded did to put this out. They really busted their butts,” Brooks said. “It was a big fire and there was a multitude of equipment inside the building, including a truck, two race cars and some acetylene tanks that the guys had to get out of there before something bad happened,” he said. Acetylene is a highly flammable or explosive gas used for welding.
“That’s the thing with places like this, you never know what you’re going to find inside,” the chief said.
There was no exposure to the adjacent gas station, Brooks said.
No one was in the building at when the fire broke out. The cause is under investigation, Riverhead Town Fire Marshal Craig Zitek said.
Firefighters were initially dismissed from the scene at about 4:45 a.m., Brook said, but some moving blankets on pallets stored on an elevated shelf in the building began smoldering, so the fire department was called back.
“We try to preserve the scene as best we can, for purposes of the investigation, so we try not to use as much water,” Brooks explained.
Route 58 was closed to traffic in both directions for the duration of the incident.
No one was injured. Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps was on standby.
The facility dates back to the late 1940s, according to owner John Heagy, who lives in a house next door to the facility. His father built it and the family has operated a trucking company there ever since, he said.
“We hope it’s not a total loss,” Heagy said.
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