Investigators probe cause of fire in Cupsogue County Park

Scene at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, the morning after a fire engulfed the park pavilion. (Credit: Matthew Adams)
Updated September 14, 2014 6:31 PM
By SCOTT EIDLER AND JENNIFER BARRIOS  scott.eidler@newsday.com,jennifer.barrios@newsday.com

Investigators Sunday worked to determine the cause of a Saturday night blaze that destroyed the popular Cupsogue Beach County Park pavilion in West Hampton Dunes, according to dispatchers from several fire departments.

Members of the Suffolk County Police arson squad surveyed the damage that consumed the pavilion — including the concession stand — leaving only portions of the walls standing. Boardwalks leading to the parking area and to the beach were not damaged.

The fire was reported to police about 8 p.m. Saturday, officials said, and burned into the night.

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West Hampton Dunes residents Sunday lamented the loss of the popular facility at the west end of Dune Road on the barrier island.

“It’s sad,” said Eric Saretsky, 52, who was walking along the road with his brother and father. “You can only hope the county will rebuild it nicely to the way it was and not turn it into something different.”

Justin Meyers, a Suffolk County spokesman, said County Executive Steve Bellone and other officials will tour the site Monday and Tuesday to “assess the damage.”

“We will absolutely be rebuilding the facility,” Meyers said. “The entire pavilion is destroyed.

Eric Friedmann, 47, also walked along Dune Road Sunday and said his family watched the blaze from their home Saturday night. At first they feared a home had caught fire by the bay side, he said. They had just visited the concession stand on Saturday.

“I’m glad it wasn’t anyone’s home and nobody was hurt,” he said.

Meyers said 20 fire departments and 250 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was under control by 1 a.m. Sunday. Fire departments responding to the blaze included Westhampton Beach, Hampton Bays, Eastport and Riverhead.

Saretsky said the pavilion was a frequent destination for the family during their 4-mile weekly walks. They would often stop for water, a restroom break or to empty sand from their shoes.

“It shortened our walk,” he said.

The park was closed to visitors Sunday and the entrance blocked by a Suffolk County parks department vehicle while investigators studied the scene.

The pavilion included bathrooms, showers and a first-aid station in addition to the concession stand and seating. Musical performances were regularly held at the pavilion. The 300-acre park also allowed camping.

Calls to county officials seeking comment on the facility’s future were not immediately returned.

Source: Newsday

September 14, 2014

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