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Smithtown Fire Department

Historic property once owned by the town's founding family burnt down to studs

A historic Smithtown mansion once inhabited by the descendants of founder Richard Smythe burned down to its studs Monday night, according to St. James Fire Department.

Suffolk County police received a call at 7:56 p.m. March 26 reporting a fully involved house fire on Edgewood Avenue in Smithtown, according to Kevin Barattini, spokesman for St. James Fire Department.

Smithtown Fire Department was first to respond to the scene and immediately reached out for mutual aid from Hauppauge, Kings Park, Nesconset, Nissequogue and St. James fire departments. The historic mansion was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived, according to Barattini, leaving them unable to enter the building.

“You could see this fire for miles,” he said. “It was amazing, that thing was glowing.”

The property was purchased March 8 by Richard Albano, owner of Richie’s Pizza in Commack and Deer Park, with the intent of restoring the nearly 175-year-old mansion to its original state.

“I’m absolutely devastated,” Albano said.

The new owner said the fire was heartbreaking, and was unable to talk about it any further Tuesday morning.

“I’m absolutely devastated.”
— Richard Albano

Albano began extensive renovations of the more than 11,000-square-foot mansion earlier this year after receiving permission from the previous owner to get started before the sale was final. The home’s 16 bedrooms, two kitchens, master ballroom, and numerous bathrooms had fallen into disrepair, but still contained many of the original fixtures, according to Albano.

“I feel a lot of passion for this home,” he told TBR News Media March 13. “I’m working on it every day, restoring it. My goal is to make it look as it was when it was brand new.”

According to “Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-book,” published by the Smithtown Historical Society in 1968, the house was built around 1846. It once belonged to Obadiah Smith, a great-grandson of Smythe, before eventually becoming the homestead to Ethelbert Marshall Smith, another Smythe descendent, in 1877.

Albano had posted March 19 on Facebook that “the restoration is going great and today seemed like it was the [first] day that it felt as things were going back together instead of taking things apart.” He was preparing to install a new roof on the building.

“It’s very unfortunate as you have a guy who was restoring this property and you look forward to seeing it when you pass by it every day,” Barattini said.

The new owner had said he hoped to open the historic mansion for the public to view once it was fully restored. Though Albano has been purchasing, renovating and reselling properties for decades, he said his intention was to live in the Ebo Hill mansion once the project was completed.

There was no reported injuries and the fire is under investigation for unknown causes at this time.

File photo

Suffolk County Police 4th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a woman in Smithtown early this morning, Dec. 14.

Cynthia Wilson was driving a 2007 Nissan Altima northbound on Terry Road when her vehicle struck a 2012 Honda Accord traveling eastbound on Jericho Turnpike at approximately 1 a.m. The collision caused the Nissan to crash into a building, located at 305 Jericho Turnpike.

Wilson, 22, of Brentwood, was transported by Smithtown Fire Department ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Honda, Carol Katz, 55, of Dix Hills, was transported by Smithtown Fire Department ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital with minor injuries.

The building was unoccupied at the time of the crash. The Smithtown building inspector was called to the scene to assess damage to the structure. Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

File photo

By Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Police responded to an incident in which two Good Samaritans helped rescue a Mount Sinai man from a burning car after he crashed in Hauppauge July 19.

Paul Gross suffered an apparent medical incident and crashed into a tree in front on Townline Road at approximately 4:53 p.m. The car started to catch fire, and volunteer fireman Stephen Matteo, who heard the crash from his residence, rushed to the scene. Matteo flagged down a passing motorist, Edmund Quinones, to help pull the unconscious man out of his vehicle.

Matteo and other Good Samaritans provided medical care on the scene and helped revive Gross. Briana Stettner, 19, of Hauppauge, heard the crash and went in the intersection of Townline Road and Hoffman Lane and stopped traffic, so emergency vehicles could get to the scene.

Gross, 53, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital by Smithtown Fire Department with several non-life-threatening injuries. Matteo, 31, of Hauppauge, and Quinones, 57, of Ronkonkoma, did not suffer injuries. The heat was so severe Matteo’s watch burned.

Smithtown Fire Department got a mother and her two children out of their house safely after it caught on fire last week. Photo from Smithtown

By Victoria Espinoza

Smithtown Fire Department responded to a smoke detector alarm coming from a residence in the early hours last Tuesday, Aug. 24.

The department got to a home on Sterling Lane at 3:11 a.m. Smithtown Third Assistant Chief Patrick Diecidue observed heavy smoke coming from the residence and quickly upgraded the call to a working structure fire.

With the possibility of residents in the home, Diecidue, along with the first responders on the scene, took out the front door and immediately proceeded to search the house. They were able to quickly remove a three-year-old girl from a bedroom and brought the child out for medical attention.

Additional arriving units continued the search and found a mother and her 3-month-old infant son on the bathroom floor. They were removed from the residence, and the department said they had inhaled a considerable amount of smoke and were in cardiac arrest.

While firefighters said the smoke was heavy, the fire was limited and quickly brought under control.

Members of the Hauppauge, Kings Park, St. James, and Nesconset fire departments responded to the scene to help, as well as the Central Islip-Hauppauge Volunteer Ambulance Corp.

The victims were treated on the scene and then transported by ambulance. The mother was initially taken to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown while the children were taken to Stony Brook University Hospital. The mother was later transferred to SBUH for additional care.

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The Stonebridge Country Club is doused in flames Tuesday night. Photo from Jeff Bressler

By Phil Corso

A brutal blaze overtook the Stonebridge Country Club in Smithtown on Thursday night.

Calls came into the Smithtown Fire Department around 6 p.m. for the fire at 2000 Raynors Way inside the country club’s maintenance shop and golf cart storage facility, a spokesman for the department said. It took several crews of emergency responders to battle the flames, but no one was injured in the incident, officials said.

The cause the fire was under investigation.

Firefighters battle the blaze at the Stonebridge Country Club. Photo by Jeff Bressler
Firefighters battle the blaze at the Stonebridge Country Club. Photo by Jeff Bressler

“Upon arrival at the scene, the alarm was quickly upgraded to a working structural fire,” said Jeff Bressler, public information officer for the Smithtown Fire Department. “The two-story building was fully engulfed in fire and exterior attack began to get it under control.”

Bressler said the building suffered major damage. Its upper level, which was used to store golf carts, was deemed a total loss. The lower level, which housed maintenance equipment, was also heavily damaged.

Firefighters knocked down the front entry of the building once the flames were under control and started searching the inside, where they found no one was in the building and there was no extension of the fire, Bressler said.

It took fire officials from Smithtown, Hauppauge and Nesconset’s fire departments and ambulance support from Central Islipe and Hauppauge’s volunteer ambulance groups.

This version corrects the day of the fire.

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