A change in wind direction during Saturday night’s blaze at the Shelter Island Recycling Center could have meant disaster for Hampshire Farms and other area properties.
That’s why fire commissioners Monday night decided to send letters to the Town Board and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. requesting that a well pump capable of putting out 500 gallons of water a minute and a water tank that can hold 12,000 gallons be installed on the site.
Saturday night wasn’t the first time there has been a fire at the Recycling Center and had there been a sufficient water supply on site, the fire likely could have been tamped down rapidly, according to Commissioner Larry Lechmanski.
Instead, water had to be brought from Daniel Lord Road, resulting in firefighters having to stand and watch as flames erupted further during their effort to bring the fire under control.
“We’re just lucky that the only place that burned was the dump,” Mr. Lechmanski said.
A suggestion that the fire district offer to pay for the tank was rejected when Mr. Lechmanski pointed out it would hit the same taxpayers whether the money is coming from the Town Board or the Fire District.
It’s just a matter of which pocket you’re tapping, the commissioner said, noting that both are filled by the same taxpayers.
The commissioners were hoping that the letters might reach Mr. Card and the Town Board by the 1 p.m. Tuesday work session to avoid further delay in addressing the subject.
The blaze sent flames as high as 80 feet in the air, according to Mr. Card who told the Reporter the fire began in the area where construction debris is collected and was probably self-igniting.
Firefighters responded to a call at 7:25 p.m. Saturday and practically had the blaze under control until they ran out of water and had to wait for a supply to begin their battle again.
Smoke was so dense in the area that the road passing by the site wasn’t visible at times, according to fire commissioners.
While Chief Will Anderson said there were no injuries, commissioners suggested Monday night there may have been some minor injuries to firefighters overcome by the smoke.
But they backed off from including any reference to injuries in their letters to Mr. Card and the Town Board.
Shelter Island Police and an Emergency Medical Services team were on site until the fire was brought under control.