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Several departments battle reignited brush fire in Southampton, officials say

At least 10 fire departments have responded to

At least 10 fire departments have responded to a brush fire in the Westhampton area. Credit: Chopper 12

A brushfire that blackened 4 1/2 acres of federal and county-owned pine barrens in Southampton Town Monday reignited briefly hours after firefighters from at least 12 departments and officers from several police forces put out the flames, authorities said.

The Westhampton blaze, first reported by 911 callers about 10 a.m., was under control by 1 p.m. But firefighters were dispatched to the area again when flames were spotted shortly after 4:30 p.m., authorities said.

The fire first started on land owned by the U.S. Department of the Interior, just south of Sunrise Highway, near Old Riverhead Road, Southampton Town fire marshal John Rankin said.

"It was driven by the wind," Rankin said.

Investigators are checking out tips and eyewitness accounts, but have not ruled whether the fire is suspicious, Rankin said.

More than 100 firefighters and their brush trucks contained the blaze, along with help from state rangers and several local police departments, including a Suffolk County police helicopter with officers who monitored the direction of the fire, Southampton Town police and fire marshal's office said.

The brush fire burned for hours across from Francis Gabreski Airport and the Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club. Firefighting operations shut down Old Riverhead Road between Sunrise Highway and Rogers Avenue until about 1 p.m., Southampton Town police said.

Scores of firefighters from Westhampton Beach, Southampton, Riverhead, Center Moriches, East Moriches, Wading River, Hampton Bays, East Quogue, Quogue, Manorville, Jamesport, Eastport and Flanders battled the blaze, authorities said.

Officers from Southampton Town, state troopers, Westhampton Beach, Suffolk County sheriff's office and Suffolk County police aviation unit also helped direct operations, town police said.

With William Murphy


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