A significant and fast moving fire erupted damaging parts the Fire Island Pines commercial district as well as at least one private residence.

Late in the evening on Monday, November 14, 2011 20 fire departments were called to support the Fire Island Pines Fire Department. According to early reports the Fire destroyed numerous landmark buildings including the Pavilion, the town’s premier nightclub, LaFountaine’s, Sip N’ Twirl, and the Pines Bistro.  Unconfirmed reports suggest the fire started around 9:00 pm at the Sip N’ Twirl before igniting gas tanks at La Fountaine which spread to the Pavilion. It is very likely heavy wind apparently played a role in the spread of this Fire.  If these reports are valid this could be the worst Fire in the community since 1959.

Fire Island Pines Fire
Fire Island Pines Fire : Pines Pantry Web Cam

The Fire Island News reported that Walter Boss of the Pines Fire Department confirmed late Monday night that the fire destroyed the Pavilion, La Fountaine and a bay-front home. Businesses north of the Pavilion along the harbor appear to have been unscathed, he told The News.

fire island pines fire
Walter Boss

Unfortunately, Fire Island has seen its share of disasters from fires to flooding, hurricanes to nor’easters. Fire Island is a very sensitive environment and disaster can be elevated by the very things we love most about it, in particular the lack of roads and the beautiful isolation. As one local resident pointed out “When a fire breaks out on the island, it spreads quickly and access to it is limited”

With a very limited off season population, the pines Fire department was joined by other fire island firefighters from: Ocean Bay Park, Davis Park, Point O’ Woods, Cherry Grove, Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor, Saltaire, Kismet, as well as mainland departments including Bay Shore, East Islip, West Islip, Sayville, Bellport, Green River, to name just a few.

Fire Island Pines Fire Department
Pines Fire Department

The news of this fire spread quickly through social media outlets. The Fire Island Facebook page that reaches over 12,000 people had 100’s interacting late into the evening and early hours Tuesday.  Fire Island related tweets were also on the rise. Josh Ocean  re-tweeted on the Fire Island Pines Cherry Grove page  “Omg! RT @cherry_grove: A fast moving fire destroyed Pavilion and at least two other structures in the Fire Island Pines”  DJ James Anthony tweeted @fireislandnews – “my thoughts and prayers are with the FIP community this evening” on the Fire Island News Twitter page, and Jess Freund tweeted: “Thoughts with the OBFD. Be safe! @fireisland” Fire Island twitter page.

However, nothing was as moving as what Andrew Kirtzman co-owner of FIP Ventures, which owns the Pavilion, Blue Whale, Canteen, Hotel Ciel, Deck, Rack Gym, Pines Supply Co.  Sugar Shack Spa and whom is largely responsible for the Pines major redevelopment over the past few years posted on the Pines Facebook page. His message was so important I felt it best to attach it in its entity.

“This is is obviously a very difficult night for all of us, and I wanted to give everyone a status report from the scene of the fire. I am outside the Pavilion building, surrounded by over 100 firefighters from across Long Island. The fire is under control but is not completely out. Both the Pavilion and LaFountaine buildings are still standing, but they have been completely gutted by fire and water. Sip n’ Twirl, the Bistro and the stores below them are in ruin. Then roof over the Pavilion is gone, and the high tea deck has been destroyed. Small fires are still burning inside the Pavilion – the dance floor – and it’s too dangerous for firefighters to enter inside. The department has called for bulldozers to be brought here from across the bay, as it may be safer to destroy the Pavilion altogether rather than fight the remaining blazes. It is an unfathomable moment. The air in the harbor is still thick with smoke, but the fire has not spread anywhere else, thanks to the incredible work of the Pines Fire Department and the departments that raced to its aid. Firefighters will be here through the night to ensure that no flames re-ignite and create a new threat to the other properties. Canteen, Blue Whale, the hotel and Pantry are all fine. The Suffolk Country Fire Department believes the fire began outside the LaFountaine office, engulfed that building and then spread to the Pavilion. Officials tell me they don’t believe the fire to be suspicious. Seth, Matt and I want to thank you all for your notes and phone calls. Everyone has a stake in these properties, and the love and passion we all feel for them are ringing loud and clearly this painful evening. Tomorrow morning, Seth, Matt and I will begin the process of renewing this beautiful property and making it even more spectacular than it was before. Our hearts go out to Nicole LaFountaine, Patrick, PJ, Bob Howard and others in the LaFountaine building, and we will help one another get the commercial district ready for summer 2012. There is a lot of hard work ahead for all of us. We feel blessed that no one was injured, and proud to be part of this beautiful community. –Andrew”

It was a long night for all Fire Islanders.  Most of all it was a long night for the hundreads of  Firefighters who worked into the night risking their lives to protect our beloved Island.  I want to personally give thanks to each and everyone of you and a special thanks specifically to the Fire Island Pines Fire Department.

We will rebuild.

If you have been to Fire Island you probably noticed many of the homes have names. Whether they are obscure, humorous, clever or ironic, they are all interesting. There are houses named after owners, a favorite song or just something to bring out that summer feeling. One of my favorites is “Open Your Heart” owned by a heart surgeon. As some members of the old FireIsland.com Facebook group noted, people even name houses that associate with other houses, as is the case with two Fair Harbor houses that sit side by side, one “Hiya Dune ” the other “Dune Well”. Then there is the ironic “Wrong House” in Ocean Bay Park named the same name as another house on the block called “Wrong House”. Whatever the meaning, naming ones home is certainly a Fire Island tradition.

fire island homes
So where did the naming of houses come from?

From what I have gathered its mostly an English and Irish custom that has been adopted by many beach communities in the United States. Perhaps because the original settlers of these areas were largely of European or maybe, like Fire Island many beach areas have limited or confusing street structures. After all, most research determines the reason for the tradition is simply because street numbers didn’t exist and naming a house was a way for people to locate and recall a specific residence. Whatever the reason we should embrace it and continue this amazing tradition on Fire Island.

I asked members of the Fire Island Facebook group to list some favorites, the response was huge. You can see the full list here, and feel free to add your houses on the FB page or right here in this post.

Bronx Zoo Too Camp Sunshine Casablanca Catch 22
Choc-Full-O-Nuts Dew Drop INN Dome House Don Woj
Double 40 Dress House Fabulosity Forever Young
Healing Waters King’s Castle King’s Ransom Love 45
Mello Yellow Old Ironsides Piano House Salt Air
Sandbridge Sangri-La Sans Souci Shel Shocked
Shells Simon Sez Smuggler SurfsUp
Sweet Revenge Terrapin Station The Deal Red Onion
Tree Tops The Duchess Under the Pines Wits En

I added a photo gallery of some of the homes I was able to take pictures of this summer. You can see that here Fire Island Homes.
If you have a house on Fire Island and you don’t have a name think about it give it time and see if anything evolves. Look towards your house guests as they have a habit of coming up with the perfect title when you least expect it.

Popular Happy Hour Appetizers of Ocean Beach, Fire Island
By Trevor Smith

If you’re planning to set sail and head to the beaches of Fire Island don’t expect to get paradise at a cheap price. However, if you live in the daily bump and grind that is New York City, an island retreat with a relaxing vibe of the water’s edge can be worth its weight in gold; and what better way to compliment a weekend getaway then tickling your palette with the flavors of summer. So, prepare to drop anchor, shell out some cash, and come aboard to review some of ocean beach’s savory appetizers.

Matthew’s Seafood Restaurant
Tucked away on the corner of the island, and away from the hustle and bustle of the main strip you will find Matthew’s Restaurant, with a bay view dockside. Upon entering you’ll feel a familiar quality, like you just stepped into your relative’s home. This place has history, which adds to its character and you can easily pass hours there chatting with patron’s bar side. The bar tender on call was friendly and knowledgeable with her 25 years experience, and she offered us service promptly. We decided to taste their Buffalo Shrimp that was butter flied, lightly breaded, fried, and accompanied with hot sauce and a mild blue cheese. At $11.00 for seven jumbo shrimp you may want to share this appetizer with a friend, but the robust spicy seasoning left us thinking: do I really have to share? (935 Bay Walk Ocean Beach, NY 11770.

Bocce Beach
Walking into Bocce Beach you can see that this establishment has been given a facelift with it’s strategically placed nautical motifs. But, with most cosmetic fixes, it leaves you feeling that the character and charm with age has been wiped clean from the plate. We sat at the bar and decided to sample a seafood standard, Crab Cakes (fairly priced at $11.00). Service was efficient, but lacked interaction from our bar tender, which matched our first impression of the restaurant. Two hot Crab Cakes came out of the kitchen, unfortunately on a cold plate, which doesn’t help to keep the food warm. The crab cakes were served with a pankco breading (Japanese breadcrumb) and a citrus mayo dip. All around we found the crab cake itself to be enjoyable. Although, we would have preferred a little less salt, which over powered our palette at times. (927 Evergreen Ocean Beach, NY 11770 (631) 583-8100).

The Hideaway
The Hideaway has a classic country French décor with white linen table clothes and glass blue vases throughout. The water’s view makes it a romantic place to grab a cocktail and nibble on an appetizer. Our order was taken by an interactive an energetic young bartender who offered up suggestions on their appetizers and made us feel welcomed. We chose their chili lime ribs, which came to us with a generous half-rack of ribs and a crisp slice of corn bread. This sweet and tangy morsel cost us $13.00 dollars, but was well worth the price with its ample portion that could serve as an entrée. Our only criticism was we couldn’t quit detect the citrus lime flavor in their ribs. All an all the Hideaway lives up to its name and leaves you feeling like you stumbled on an undiscovered treasure (785 Evergreen Walk Ocean Beach, NY 11770).

CJ’s is the only Restaurant open past the summer’s end, and is not big on pretenses. This no fuss restaurant makes it kid friendly and a good place to grab a quick bite or wet your whistle. We kept it simple and ordered their hot wings, which happen to come in a variety of different sauces (Sesame Ginger, Orange Ginger, BBQ, Cajun, and Teriyaki). Our interaction with our bartender was brief, but cordial. The appetizer came with 11 large sized wings and was seasoned with an uneventful helping of plain out of the bottle hot sauce. The wings were not crispy enough for our liking but for it’s price it will serve for a quick fix to fill your belly.
(479 Bay Walk Ocean Beach, NY 11770)

Maguire’s Restaurant
Tuna “Pokie” Tartar ($13.50): Served on a long rectangular plate, this dish featured three medallion shaped molds of chopped tuna tartar, each topped with a deep-fried pot sticker triangle—creating an image reminiscent of tiny sailboats. Avocado scoops, passionfruit puree and wasabi vinaigrette were drizzled around the plate’s perimeter, completing the presentation. The light crispiness of the deep-fried pot stickers, buttery texture of the perfectly ripened avocado, and fresh tuna tartar mingled beautifully, while the two sauces added concentrated sweetness and zing. This appetizer foreshadowed the core culinary theme Maguire’s of Ocean Beach: outstanding ingredients are allowed to shine through, minimally altered.

We wrote this review to highlight some of the more popular happy hour spots. We are also huge fans of: The Albatross, Castaways, and The Sand Bar.