By Julianne Mosher & Rita J. Egan
When a fire broke out at a horse complex in Setauket Tuesday morning, more than a dozen different fire departments came together and helped.
One of those volunteers was Thomas Lund, owner of Seven Seas Construction Co. in Port Jefferson.
Lund, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Port Jefferson Fire Department, said he was aware of what was going on a town over and was gearing up to drive to work in Strong’s Neck when the fire broke out.
“The fire happened to be sort of along the way. So, I figured I would bring the barge over,” he said. “I knew they were bringing the fire boat, and I figured I could be a solid platform for them to work off of.”
While dozens upon dozens of fire trucks headed to the flames, along with the fire boat in the harbor, Lund said the team ended up using the water pump that he uses for dock building with his company.
“We were able to supply water until the fire broke out there,” he said. “At the very least we could give a hand because I knew it would be a big operation — a very small part of it, but I figured we could at least do something to help and we were able to, so it was great.”
He added that for about 45 minutes, he and his fellow fighters stretched a line from his equipment on the deck, connecting it to another line at the dock.
“It was a big operation from the start,” he said.
The fire initially broke out at 10 a..m Sept. 21 at 23 Brewster Lane, according to Setauket Fire Department Chief Scott Gressin. The SFD received mutual aid in excess of 16 surrounding departments.
The chief said a 19,000 square-feet structure, that was once used as an interior horse-riding arena, had heaving smoke and fire could be seen coming from multiple sides as firefighters arrived on the scene.
Gressin said the first approach was an offensive one; however, considering the fire load inside of the building, the first responders had to take a defensive approach.
There were no horses in the structure as it has not been used as a riding arena in some time. Gressin said horses in a nearby stable were under no threat. Two firefighters with burns were treated and released from the hospital.
Wednesday morning firefighters and investigators were still at the site.
“It continues to be an active fire scene with a hazardous material incident involving buried propane tanks,” Gressin said. “I have multiple agencies working to mitigate the problem.”
He said the SFD is coordinating with the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. At this time, he cannot anticipate when the investigation will be completed.
Brookhaven’s Chief Fire Marshal Christopher Mehrman said the origin and cause investigation was concluded Tuesday. He said the reason was human error as an electrical conductor that shouldn’t have been energized was. Two electricians who received electrical shocks were transported to the hospital. Mehrman did not have their present status at press time.
Mehrman said the intensity of the fire caused two 1,000-gallon propane tanks to leak. Even though they are underground, the valving is above. He said HazMat technicians are on the scene to control the flow. The fire marshal said neighbors are not in any danger because the propane is being burned off which means no gas is accumulating.