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Sagamore Hill gift shop fire 'not suspicious,' investigators say

Oyster Bay Assistant Fire Chief Vincent Bellissimo discussed a fire

Oyster Bay Assistant Fire Chief Vincent Bellissimo discussed a fire that gutted a nonhistoric building and destroyed items in the gift shop at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay on Monday. Credit: Newsday / Jesse Coburn

After a fire gutted a nonhistoric building at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay, Nassau County fire marshal investigators said the blaze stemmed from the boiler room and was “not suspicious."

The site's gift shop was severely damaged by water and smoke from the fire on Monday morning, officials said.

The cause of the fire is still “undetermined” as investigators look into the incident, Nassau County Assistant Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said Tuesday. “The fire began in the utility closet and they’re still looking at the boiler as the source.”

Volunteers with the Oyster Bay, Syosset, Bayville, East Norwich and other fire departments responded to an alarm shortly before 9 a.m. Monday. The blaze was extinguished within an hour, Oyster Bay Assistant Fire Chief Vincent Bellissimo said.

“There was heavy smoke coming from the roof of the building and some fire coming from some plumbing vents,” said Bellissimo, who was one of the first firefighters to arrive.

No one was in the building, and no injuries were reported.

The utility closet, bathroom and gift shop were severely damaged, Uttaro said.

Once the fire marshal’s investigation is completed, the next step would be for a specialist, likely from an insurance company, to examine the boiler and figure out exactly what caused the malfunction, Uttaro said.

Insulation hung loose from the ceilings and debris lay outside shattered windows after the fire. No historic structures were damaged, said the site's museum curator, Susan Sarna.

Sagamore Hill was the home of President Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until his death in 1919. The grounds of the surrounding park are open during the federal government shutdown, but there are no visitor services, according to the park’s website.

With Vera Chinese and Jesse Coburn

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