NEW YORK - Neighbors say they are still in a state of shock after five people were killed when a fast-moving fire ripped through a home in Riverhead.
Ten people were inside at the time of the fire but only five managed to make it out alive.
According to officials, the blaze broke out at around 10:37 p.m. Tuesday inside 46 East 2nd St. off Roanoke Ave. sending residents running for safety. Firefighters were on scene within one minute of a 911 call, but the fire became too fierce too fast to rescue those inside.
The fire caused the third floor of the house, which was occupied by 5 residents, to collapse onto the second floor. The people killed in the fire were found in the rubble.
The victims - a mother and her two children along with two nephews who had just moved to Riverhead from Guatemala. It’s unclear where the fire started.
The four-unit home was legal according to officials with the Town of Riverhead. It was supposed to undergo an inspection in 2020 however repeated calls and visits by code enforcement to the owner of the home were unsuccessful.
In 2017, 2nd Street where the house once stood was part of the district added to the National Register of Historic Places. And according to preservationists, the shingle-style home - was the centerpiece of it all.
"The loss of the house is a major tragedy for the people whose lives were lost but also a lot for historic Riverhead," said Richard Wines, Chair of the Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Investigators are looking into smoking as a cause of the fire, among other possible accidents. At this point, there’s no indication if the home was equipped with smoke alarms and whether they went off.
A preliminary investigation determined the fire was not criminal in nature. The investigation is still ongoing.