First a Bang, Then a Blaze

Ilse Gould was awakened at around 4 a.m. last Thursday by a loud bang, and saw lights on the back deck of the house she and her husband, Stephen Gould, own, at 84 Williams Way in Bridgehampton. Thinking they had simply left the lights on after a Fourth of July spent barbecuing with friends and family, she went out to investigate and found the natural-gas line leading from the barbecue to the house on fire. 

She immediately called 911. In only their pajamas, the couple, their daughter, and two grandchildren ages 19 and 16, ran outside. The teens took their cellphones.

According to Bridgehampton Fire Department Chief Tim Sieger, the call came in at 4:11 a.m. as a gas leak. The department arrived four minutes later to find a fully engaged blaze.

The grill, which sat under an awning, was built into the wooden deck, separated from the house only a few feet, by a bluestone counter under which the gas line ran. The awning quickly caught fire, spreading the flames to the attic and roof.

Because of difficult weather conditions, including high heat and humidity, several fire departments were called in. East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, and North Sea all sent help. 

Bridgehampton also enlisted the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Southampton Volunteer Ambulance to help its own emergency medical service personnel keep watch on firefighters’ condition. One fireman from the Southampton department was transported to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation; he was released after treatment. 

Brian Williams, a Southampton Town fire marshal who investigated the cause of the blaze, confirmed that it started in the gas grill. He noted that the grill was over 15 years old, and that there might have been a mechanical failure.

The Goulds have owned the 4,000-square-foot house with four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms since 1977. “The repairs will take nine months, maybe a year,” Ms. Gould said. During that time, the family will live at their Manhattan residence.