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Fire Ripped Through 10 Canals Homes During Sandy

A view from Barnes Street of ten homes that caught fire during Hurricane Sandy.
A view from Barnes Street of ten homes that caught fire during Hurricane Sandy.

Two Long Beach firefighters walked through about four streets in chest-high floodwater to a fire that would rip through a cluster of 10 homes at the height of Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29.

That night, the hurricane had already knocked out the Long Beach Fire Department's power and communications, and the volunteer duo had left the East End firehouse on Lido Boulevard with a portable pump, hose and nozzle in an inflatable boat after the LBFD was alerted about the blaze in the Canals through smart phones and social media.

“People were texting us or you saw it on Facebook: … ‘There’s a big fire in the Canals; if you know somebody, send help,’” said Chief Richard Corbett, who first spoke publicly about the fire following a special City Council meeting Tuesday.

Corbett said that once the two firefighters arrived at the flooded scene at Farrell Street and Barnes Street they started to put water on the fire, and simultaneously the uniformed force got an engine truck there as the floodwater started to recede. The firefighters were also in a battle with hurricane-force winds.

“Seven homes were burned to the ground and three sustained major damage,” he said, noting that it took roughly six hours to contain and extinguish the blaze. 

There were no injuries reported, either to firefighters or inhabitants, even though at least two families were home during the storm.

“They were out of their houses when we got there, but being that we were so shorthanded a lot of the neighbors were actually trying to help us,” Corbett said. “We really don’t encourage that, but everyone was doing what they could to help us.”

A fire of that magnitude probably would have went to a second- or third-alarm fire, the chief said. “We had to do it with three engines because one of our other engines backed out,” Corbett explained. “... One of the trucks actually had water coming over the windshield. But they kept persevering to get there.”

The department called Nassau County Fire Communications Center in Mineola to send five out-of-town engine trucks to Long Beach, but they were unable to provide mutual aid due to the severity of the storm. “We were by ourselves down here and we knew it,” Corbett said.

Asked if neighboring fire departments, such as Island Park, were turned back during the storm and flooding, Corbett said that they weren’t. “Island Park was actually decimated before us, in their low-lying areas,” he said. “Their calls started about six or seven hours before us.”

Corbett said that the fire might have ignited in a car parked at one of the homes that was destroyed, but he was still unsure. The Nassau County Fire Marshall was not immediately available for comment Friday morning.
Alison D. Gilbert November 23, 2012 at 10:58 AM
I have written a Hurricane Sandy blog post for people who need help and for those who can give help. It is updated at least once daily with new information in the comments section. Please feel free to add to it. It will stay live as long as there is a need to receive and a desire to give. Thank you. http://digitalethos.org/social-media-and-hurricane-sandy/
Eddie November 23, 2012 at 05:05 PM
A great job by Mr. Corbett and his men. We all know the hurricane could have brought much worse upon us. We are lucky and blessed.

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