UPDATED: Fire Island Pines Blaze Destroys Gay Businesses & Clubs
Sketchy information flooded Facebook pages last night as a fire swept through the Fire Island Pines commercial district, a popular gay vacation destination. Now with the light of day comes some clarity.
Fire Island News website reports that a fast-moving fire destroyed and gutted the Pavilion complex and at least one home near the Fire Island Pines commercial district late on Monday, November 14.
According to reporter Michael K. Lavers:
"The blaze broke out around 9:15 p.m. It quickly engulfed the Pavilion, C.F. LaFountaine, Sip N' Twirl, the Pines Bistro and a bay front home. Walter Boss of the Fire Island Pines Fire Department confirmed to The News around 11:20 p.m. ... Businesses north of the Pavilion along the harbor appear to have been unscathed."
Andrew Kirtzman, a co-owner of the properties, released a statement from the scene Tuesday morning via Facebook. He said the fire was under control and officials did not believe the cause to be suspicious. The Suffolk Country Fire Department suspects the fire started outside LaFountaine before spreading to the Pavilion. Kirtzman also noted that Canteen, Blue Whale, the hotel and Pantry are all fine. He writes:
“Both the Pavilion and LaFountaine buildings are still standing, but they have been completely gutted by fire and water. Sip n' Twirl, the Bistro and the stores below them are in ruin. [The] roof over the Pavilion is gone, and the high tea deck has been destroyed.”
For those who don't know, Fire Island features a thriving community for many gay and lesbian owners and renters during the spring, summer and into the fall months. Though the blaze took place after many people had already packed up, winterized their homes and left for the season, approximately 300 fire fighters responded to the crisis. Out.com's Jerry Portwood notes that this was the largest response to a fire on Long Island since the Sunrise Fire scorched thousands of acres of pine barrens in 1995; fire fighters from the Pines, Ocean Bay Park, Davis Park, Point O' Woods, Cherry Grove, Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor, Saltaire, Kismet, East Islip, West Islip, Hagerman, Sayville, Bellport, Great River, and Bay Shore all turned out.
On the Sip N' Twirl's Facebook page, the last event at this gay destination took place Halloween weekend. P.J. McAteer, owner of Sip N' Twirl, posted on his Facebook page: "Please remember Fire Island Pines is more then just buildings, it is an institution, it is a community. We will survive!"
We'll have more information as it arrives.
Read about the history of the harbor complex on EdgeNewYork.com.