By Victoria Espinoza
Gunther’s Tap Room was gutted after a fire consumed the walls of the bar Tuesday morning, May 23.
The fire at Gunther’s, a mainstay in the Northport Village community, required the response of more than 60 firefighters to the scene after Northport fireman Jake Milliken passed the bar in the morning while driving on Main Street and noticed the smoke, according to Steve Silverman, public information officer for the Huntington Fire Chiefs Council.
The department said the fire started at about 7 a.m. and was brought under control within an hour, however it took another two to do a complete overhaul of the establishment.
“It was very labor intensive because of the construction of the property,” Northport Fire Department Chief Brad Wine said in a phone interview. “The body of the fire wasn’t tremendous but it was in the walls and ceiling so we pretty much had to gut it.”
Wine said the firefighters had to remove the tin ceiling and open up all of the walls to ensure there was no chance of an additional fire starting.
Three firefighters, two from Northport and one from Kings Park, suffered minor injuries including smoke inhalation and back and ankle injuries from slipping, and were transported to Huntington Hospital and St. Catherine’s Hospital. Wine said all three are on the mend and home recovering.
Wine said it was difficult responding to the call, knowing the importance of Gunther’s for the community.
“Pete Gunther was a former chief with us in the department, I knew him my whole life, and I graduated high school with Eddie [McGrath] so it was tough to see something like this happen to a local business,” he said. McGrath, a former bartender at Gunther’s became the owner of the bar after Gunther died last year.
“Everyone knows Gunther’s, it’s a landmark in Northport,” Wine said.
Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca said the department received an alarm from Milliken, as well as a few other residents.
The police assisted the fire department with evacuating five people from apartments on the second and third floor of the building.
“The fire department did a really good job of containing the fire,” Rica said. “These old buildings are tinder boxes, and we were pretty fortunate that is was contained to the first floor, with minor damage on the other two floors.”
Ricca agreed it was sad to see this happen to the historic bar.
“We’re hopeful they get the spot up and running again,” he said. “It’s a staple to the Northport community, and a we hope they can successfully recover it.”
The Centerport, East Northport, Kings Park, Greenlawn and Eaton’s Neck fire departments responded to the scene to help. The fire is currently under investigation by the Suffolk Police Arson Squad and Northport Fire Marshal, and no determination has been made for the cause of the fire. Suffolk Fire-Rescue Coordinators, Emergency Management and the American Red Cross were on the scene to provide assistance with relocating displaced residents.
Ricca said neighboring businesses Clipper Ship Tea Company and 7T8 European Fusion also suffered some fire and water damage as a result of the incident.