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Officials probe fire of vacant house at former Kings Park Psychiatric Center

The Suffolk County Arson Squad is investigating an early morning fire on Sunday, March 5, 2017, that destroyed a vacant house on the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center. There were no injuries and the cause of the blaze was under investigation. (Credit: Stringer News Service)

The Suffolk County Arson Squad is investigating a Sunday morning fire that destroyed a vacant house on the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center.

There were no injuries and the cause of the blaze was under investigation, authorities said.

Kings Park Fire Chief John M. Gallo said the department received a call shortly after 2 a.m. about a fire at the house at the corner of St. Johnland Road and Kings Park Boulevard.

“When we got there it was fully involved,” Gallo said. “There were flames coming out of multiple windows and through the roof.”

Gallo noted that because there were no working fire hydrants nearby, firefighters had to use hydrants from another neighborhood in the area, resulting in a four-hour battle to bring the blaze under control.

“We had to drop a large amount of hose so it took us the better part of four hours,” Gallo said. The Smithtown Highway Department ended up razing the two-story wood frame structure with a brick facade at Gallo’s request.

Gallo said that “better than 50 percent” of the house had been damaged in the blaze. He added, “I believe it was one of the old doctor cottages.”

The former psychiatric center property is now the site of the 521-acre Nissequogue River State Park located on the banks and bluffs of the Nissequogue River in Kings Park. The psychiatric center closed in 1996 and the park was opened in 2000.

Gallo said the park property has been the site of many fires over the years, with the boarded-up houses attracting teens and others looking for a place to hang out or make mischief.

“We’re constantly up there,” Gallo said. “In the last couple of years we’ve been there at least a couple of dozen times.”

Gallo said the mutual aid that responded to the fire included departments from Nissequogue, Smithtown, Commack and East Northport.

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