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UPDATE: Local Firefighters in the 'Thick of Things' at Brush Fire

Springs chief recalls kindness of strangers.

Of the 50 volunteer fire departments called to fight the raging Long Island brush fire in Brookhaven Town, five departments were some of East Hampton's bravest.

Chief Mark Bennett said his department, along with , was in the "thick of things," battling the flames from a brush truck in the woods in Manorville.

Nine volunteers were the first to go up with Amagansett around 4 p.m. They were relieved around midnight by 11 more, who stayed on a few more hours before being sent home in the early morning hours. It was a little too dangerous to be driving around in the marsh with brush trucks in the middle of the night, Bennett said. 

East Hampton went up with its brush truck and 11 firefighters, who were relieved around midnight by another 11, Chief Ray Harden said. "Everybody did a great job," he said, adding that "Our 1968 truck held up pretty well."

"They'd send five trucks in a time. They'd come out and then another five would go in," Bennett said. Many got stuck in the marshy areas. Amagansett's truck blew a tire and two fire police drove from out east with a jack and a tire.

was tasked with refilling water on the brush trucks, which can only hold 500 to 750 gallons. First Assistant Chief Ben Miller said his department doesn't have a brush truck anymore, so firefighters brought the 3,000-gallon tanker wherever it was needed. They refilled it three times at the nearest hydrants.

After about eight hours on duty, the chief's vehicle was running low on fuel so Miller and a few of the six firefighters that went with him stopped off at Cumberland Farms in Manorville to fill up and get some coffee.

"This woman comes up to us and asked if we were going back to the fire. We told her we were and she asked, 'Is there anything I can do to help?'," Miller said. They told her the Red Cross had set up at that point at a Roman Catholic Church in Wading River with food and refreshments. Still, the woman insisted on buying the firefighters water. She wanted to buy 12 cases, the firefighters convinced her to only get five.

"It's nice to see the community really come together. It's a nice little pat on the back. Small gestures go a long way," he said.

Miller said his department is ready to help out some more, however, the tanker broke down on the way back to Springs this morning.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department sent a brush truck earlier this morning. It had been on stand-by on Monday.

"It's real easy to say, 'Yes, let's send everything we have up there.' But, the reality is you have to preserve resources out here," Miller said.

Montauk Fire Department stood by at Amagansett's headquarters and Sag Harbor stood by for the rest of the departments.

East Hampton Fire Chief Ray Harden was back at work at Krupinski Builders on Tuesday morning, despite working into the morning hours at the fire scene. The multi-agency fire call came just as Harden and Bennett have just a few days left until they both step down from their posts and the new chiefs take over.

Jerry Ruschmeyer April 10, 2012 at 06:56 PM
What a great job by all the departments !
Pat Mansir April 10, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Thank You ...Springs, Amagansett, East Hampton, Montauk, Bridgehampton, and Sag Harbor Fire Departments for helping so many people rest peacefully. YOU ARE OUR HEROS !!!!!
Sharon Rafferty April 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM
these guys are the BEST
Jimbo April 11, 2012 at 01:36 PM
These guys make me proud to be a member of the EHFD. I'm too old to drag hoses through the woods or man a back pack but I did my share from 1969 - 1979! GREAT JOB!
Elaine Jones April 16, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Thank you to all our firemen. May God Bless you all. They devote their time and sacrifice so much to help us for no money.

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