TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
Long IslandSuffolk

Ocean Beach alarmed about fires

Ocean Beach Mayor James Mallott has announced plans to invite a Long Island Power Authority representative to the village to explain the apparent high rate of electrical fires there.

But some residents said they want to get a professional opinion outside of LIPA, even if the village has to pay consulting fees.

About 45 homeowners came to the community house Saturday for a board of trustees meeting at which Mallott reported that there have been two fires in Ocean Beach in the past two weeks, both caused by ground wire problems, but he acknowledged that LIPA was not at fault.

Mallott said he hopes to have a LIPA official speak at a board meeting soon to answer questions about why local buildings seem primed for fire disaster.

"I think the best we can do is everybody have an electrician inspect your house and see what can be done," Mallott said. "If your house is over 10 years old, you should have it inspected every few years."

Trustee Matthew Blake, a liaison with the Ocean Beach Fire Department, said there were four major fires -- two in Ocean Beach -- and 225 rescue calls on Fire Island in 2011.

Residents put the number of fires in perspective, pointing out that the roughly 600 homes in Ocean Beach are tightly spaced, so fires can easily spread out of control.

"With so much loss we've had and a large unknown about the cause of these fires, maybe it would be prudent to hire someone independent of LIPA to look into this," said resident David Mendelsohn, who was among those who raised the issue.

Also on the agenda, the board adopted a code amendment to ban barbecuing or cooking on watercraft docked at Ocean Beach, saying it creates an additional fire hazard.

"It's just a time bomb," said trustee Thomas Nolter. "We realized there was nothing in the village code preventing that."

On another matter, village clerk-treasurer Steven Brautigam announced that the towns of Islip and Brookhaven and the villages of Saltaire and Ocean Beach are close to an intermunicipal agreement on a beach "renourishment" project, a several-year process that means measuring the amount of erosion of the ocean beaches and replenishing them with sand.

He anticipated work to start in 2014 and said Ocean Beach's share of the project would cost about $600,000.

Also on the agenda, the village board approved Gerry Weinger's plan to move his business, Fire Island Liquors, to a bigger shop and sublet his current space until his lease ends.

Latest Long Island News