Officials: Lightning sparks Eatons Neck house fire

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An apparent lightning strike sparked a basement fire at a home in Eatons Neck Sunday night, officials said.

Firefighters from Eatons Neck and Northport responded to the residence on South Harbor Road at 6:42 p.m., at the peak of a swift thunderstorm that darkened skies and brought high winds. Callers reported that a blaze started in the basement after a lightning strike, fire officials said.

The Eatons Neck Fire Department dispatched two pumper trucks, a rescue truck and an ambulance, though no injuries were reported, said firefighter Bob Leone. The fire was fully contained shortly after 7 p.m.

Further details, such as the extent of damage to the home, what was struck to spark the blaze, and how many people were inside at the time, were not available from officials.

David Urquhart, who lives next door on South Harbor Road, about 100 yards away, said he was visiting another neighbor during the storm when he saw a "very bright flash" and "almost instantaneous thunder," followed quickly by the sound of sirens. At first, someone he was with was worried his home had been struck.

"That's what we're always worried about," Urquhart said of lightning strikes.

Houses were also reportedly struck by lightning in Mount Sinai, although fire officials weren't immediately able to provide more information. A house fire was also reported in Terryville, but it was not clear if lightning was to blame.

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Suffolk County police received a report of flooding at Christian Avenue and Quaker Path in Setauket and a vehicle stuck in water in Huntington at Creek Road and New York Avenue, as well a handful of calls about downed wires.

In Central Islip, firefighters spent two hours putting out a blaze sparked by downed wires on Wheeler Avenue, said Kevin McAteer, first assistant chief with the Central Islip Fire Department.

"It was just a nightmare trying to manage the traffic situation," he said. "People were trying to drive over the live wires."

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Long Island Power Authority crews arrived on site, shut down power and were able to repair the damage, which caused outages to about 1,200 customers in the area. Power was mostly restored by 10 p.m.

At times, more than 3,800 customers in Suffolk County were without power, with the heaviest concentrations in Islip, Huntington and Brookhaven towns. By 10 p.m., 909 customers were still without power. Restore times for some areas were estimated at 3 p.m. Monday.

The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning in Suffolk until 7:30 p.m.The storms had been moving east at 25 mph along a line extending from Middle Island to Medford.

Another weather warning was issued at 9:41 p.m. and in effect until 10:45 p.m. affecing Nassau, Suffolk, Kings and Queens counties. Winds were expected to reach 40 mph, the special weather statement reported.

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"The main threat with these will be from strong winds," meteorologist Joey Picca said.

Areas covered by the warning included Calverton, Center Moriches, Manorville, Mastic, Mastic Beach, Riverhead, Shinnecock Hills, Shirley, Wading River and Westhampton.

Storms moving across the region should taper out by morning, Picca said.

Monday will see highs in the mid- to upper 80s along the coast on the East End with temperatures rising to the lower 90s in central Long Island, Nash said. The day will be muggy with lows in the upper 60s to lower 70s.

Tuesday is expected to be another muggy day with highs in the mid-90s and lows in the mid-70s.

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There is a 30 percent chance of rain Wednesday afternoon, Nash said. Highs will be in the lower 90s, and lows in the upper 60s to lower 70s.

No rain is expected Thursday. Highs are forecast in the mid-80s and lows in the upper 60s, and Friday will see highs in the lower to mid-80s and lows in the upper 60s, Nash said.

With Jennifer Barrios

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