A fire broke out behind the walls of renowned art dealer Larry Gagosian's house in Amagansett on Tuesday night, leaving it uninhabitable for the time being, fire officials said.
Artists that Gagosian's New York City gallery represents or has exhibited include Pablo Picasso, John Currin, John Chamberlain, Roy Lichtenstein, and Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
Chief Mark Bennett said a caretaker, who was at the house, even ran out of the house at 424 Further Lane with two paintings for safe keeping.
The fire started when a plumber was soldering pipe behind a refrigerator on Tuesday evening, Bennett and East Hampton Town Chief Fire Marshal David Browne said on Wednesday morning. Browne said there was ongoing work being done on the estate, on one of the most exclusive blocks in the Hamptons.
Known as "Toad Hall," Gagorian bought the estate for $8 million in 1990, according to an article in New York Magazine the following year. The house was designed by the famous architect Charles Gwathmey for Francois de Menil.
A worker inside the house called 911 at 8:50 p.m., according to .
"He dumped two or three fire extinguishers on it trying to put it out," Browne said.
The house was filled with smoke, the fire chief said. Flames were in the walls, between the first and second floors, he said, adding that volunteer firefighters had to cut holes in the ceiling and on the second floor where there was a foot and a half gap.
His department did a good job of knocking down the fire quickly and containing the damage to just three rooms in the house, which include a home theater.
"We got there pretty quickly, so we got a stop on it," he said.
"But there's smoke damage and some water damage," he said, adding, though, that they were careful about using tarps to protect what they could. A tarp saved a flat-screen television -- the biggest Bennett said he's ever seen.
However, he wasn't sure about other artwork.
The roof did not have to be vented with a hole and smoke was blown out of the house with fans.
The power to the house was shut off due to damage to wiring, which Bennett said needs to be looked at by an electrician before anyone can move back in.
In addition to about 50 firefighters and emergency medical services personnel with the Amagansett Fire Department, the was called on for its tanker truck for more water and for its Rapid Intervention Team, which stands by in case a firefighter has trouble inside the house.
The stood by at Amagansett's firehouse.
Firefighters were on scene for about two hours.
Water was not an issue, although Bennett said if it had been, there is a pond on the property from which the department could have pumped water.
Bennett said Gagosian's house was down a long, winding driveway on Further Lane, which made it a little harder to navigate with the fire apparatus. A gate at the front of the property slowed first responders down because they needed a gate code. "I wish when they call 911, the gate would somehow just stay open," he said.
The chief fire marshal said he has closed his investigation, rendering the cause an accident.