The charred home on East Second Street as it looked on Nov. 18. File photo: Peter Blasl

Cigarettes caused the deadly house fire on East Second Street Nov. 16, the Suffolk County Police Department said today.

A spokesperson for the police department was not immediately able to provide additional information.

In January, Laura Rivera, sister and aunt of the victims, said she investigators handling the case had recently told her they believed the blaze was caused by a discarded cigarette.

“What they say is that it was a cigarette — that someone was smoking on the deck of the house where my family lived and when he finished, he threw it away without realizing that it was still lit, and that there was furniture nearby,” Rivera said Jan. 13. “We have been told that so far no criminal hands are believed to be involved in this case,” she said.

Rivera told RiverheadLOCAL in November one of her nephews, had been celebrating his 24th birthday with friends on the porch of the house hours before the fire. The friends left before 10 p.m., she said. A short time later, a massive fire engulfed the 114-year old home.

A police department spokesperson today could not say whether the fire started on the porch, as Rivera said she was told, or inside the three-story multi-family home.

The fire killed five members of the Rivera family, who lived in the third-floor apartment: Zonia Dinora Rivera, 41, her children, Carlos Cifredo Peñate Rivera, 24, and Andrea Isamar González, 16, and her nephews, Douglas Edgardo Rivera Aguirre, 24, Carlos Alberto Ramos Aguirre, 22.

Five residents who lived in apartments on the first and second floors of the home, including the building owner, Carmela Cannella, escaped unharmed, according to police.

This story will be updated with additional information when it becomes available.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Avatar photo
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor and attorney. Her work has been recognized with numerous journalism awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She was also honored in 2020 with a NY State Senate Woman of Distinction Award for her trailblazing work in local online news. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.