By Danny Schrafel
A “suspicious” early-morning fire at 4 Carriage Court in Dix Hills Sunday badly damaged a blighted home there, for which town officials were set to hold a hearing this week to determine whether the residence should be torn down.
When Dix Hills volunteers arrived at the home at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, they discovered heavy fire in the back of the boarded-up, vacant residence and flames shooting through the roof, Dix Hills FD chief Robert Fling said.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter on Sunday said the blaze was determined to be “of suspicious origin” and that Suffolk County PD’s Arson squad was probing the fire.
Carter said the home is on Huntington’s blight registry, which allows the town to assess steep penalties or draft clean-up plans with the owners. In severe cases, the town can clean up the property on its own or secure an order to have the dilapidated structure torn down at the owner’s expense.
Before the initial 4 Carriage Court blight hearing, held last June, neighbors complained of litter and debris, dilapidated, rotting structures and boarded-up windows on the property, which they said has been vacant for several years.
The home is expected to be the subject of an upcoming hearing, scheduled for this Tuesday, June 2, at which time an administrative law judge is to hear testimony related to a mold condition in the home, Carter said. After the hearing, a determination will be made as to whether the mold can be remedied, or if the house must be demolished.
“The town will be assessing what effect the fire has on the blight proceeding,” he said.
In the meantime, Carter said the town’s fire marshal has placarded the home, meaning it is unfit for occupancy, and will notify the owner that it must be boarded up and secured.
Under Fling’s command, about 50 volunteer firefighters battled the blaze using five trucks and had the fire knocked down within a half hour. Operations were handled by Assistant Chiefs Tom Napolitano and Joe Williamson.
This was the second house fire that Dix Hills firefighters had to contend with this week. On Arielle Court May 25, a home that was under construction was badly damaged, as were two luxury SUVs, two trailers, the garage and “basically the entire left side of the house,” Fling said.
At Sunday morning’s blaze, Melville Fire Department assisted at the scene, while the Deer Park and Greenlawn fire departments provided standby coverage; the Dix Hills Rescue Squad was on the scene with ambulances, rehab, paramedic and first responder units.