Police: 5 people dead in Riverhead house fire
Police say five people were killed in a fire at a multifamily home in Riverhead late Tuesday.
According to police, a call came in around 10:37 p.m. for a residential fire at the home on East Second Street between Roanoke and East avenues. Police say firefighters were on the scene one minute after the call.
"It's a large house, it's over 100 years old. Wood frame house. It was a quick-moving fire. You know, it's just, apartments, it makes it very compartmentalized," said Detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer.
A total of eight departments responded to the scene and helped knock down the flames.
Police say five bodies were discovered inside the residence after the fire had been extinguished. Five people made it out alive.
Officials say a total of 10 people lived in the home, where there were apartments on every floor. Those who lived on the first and second floors made it out safely. The five people who lived on the third floor did not survive.
The five victims were part of the same family - a mother, her son and daughter and her two nephews.
The Town of Riverhead supervisor tells News 12 the home had proper permits and was legally divided into four apartments and had been routinely inspected before the pandemic. The town called several times to schedule the 2020 inspection, but it did not happen.
"We did go forward with an attempt to contact the owner, and it resulted in a summons," says Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar. "There's a possibility that COVID had something to do with that."
Officials say one firefighter was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of a shoulder injury. That firefighter has since been released.
The identity of those who lost their lives have not been released pending family notification.
Police say the fire started accidently and spread quickly.
"A resident from the second floor went to walk his dog. When he came back from walking the dog, he came into the house, gets ready for bed and smells smoke," Beyrer says. "And then he hears the residents of the apartment across the hall yelling fire."
Neighbors were distraught at the loss of life.
"I'm just sad, it's so sad, the lives that have been lost," said Riverhead resident Laura Zinnanti.
Police are looking into all possibilities as to how the fire started, including possibly being ignited by a cigarette.
They also say it's not known if there were working smoke detectors inside the apartments.