A ferocious fire made worse by whipping winds destroyed a waterfront mansion in East Hampton Village Wednesday afternoon, fire officials said.
The blaze was reported about 2:35 p.m. and the home was engulfed by flames when firefighters responded, said Richard Osterberg Jr., chief of the East Hampton Village Fire Department. Firefighters were forced to retreat from the interior, which began collapsing, Osterberg said.
An excavator was brought in and the home was demolished, he said.
"It appears to be accidental," Osterberg said. "There's no reason to believe the fire was set intentionally."
He said the village fire marshal is investigating the cause for the blaze.The home at 57 West End Rd. is located along the ocean, in the wealthy summer community near Georgica Pond. It is owned by West End Partners LLC, Village Administrator Rebecca Molinaro said.
According to records, Peter Morton, co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe, sold the home for $21,950,000 in 2008 to West End Partners LLC, a Nevada-based company of which he is an officer.
Osterberg said no one was home at the time of the blaze but about a dozen workers were at the home. Molinaro said roofers were working at the house.
An assistant at Morton's West Hollywood, California-based company, The Melrose Corp., declined to comment and referred an inquiry to Manhattan-based attorney Errol Margolin, who could not be reached for comment.The property was the subject of an application before the village's zoning board of appeals, Molinaro said. Firefighters from Sag Harbor, Amangansett, Springs, Montauk, Southampton, North Sea and Hampton Bays also responded.
About 100 firefighters battled the blaze, which was largely under control in about an hour, though pockets of fire smoldered for hours, Osterberg said.
"It was very intense," Osterberg said. "The wind certainly did not do us any favors."
The response was complicated by the home's narrow driveway, which could only fit a single fire truck; others had to park on neighboring properties, said Osterberg.
An East Hampton Village firefighter was "struck in the face by a hose line," said Osterberg, who described the injury as "very, very minor." The male firefighter was transported to Southampton Hospital for observation, he said.