forest fire

Late-Night Blaze Ravages Fire Island Pines


Some time after 9pm last night, a fire destroyed part of Fire Island’s famed Pavilion complex, including La Fountaine, Sip N’ Twirl and the Bistro. Hundreds of Long Island firefighters responded to the call, which Pines co-owner Andrew Kirtzman says is now out. The Pavilion, originally constructed in 1980, was razed and rebuilt in 2007 by former owner Eric von Kuersteiner. It was renovated again in 2010 when Kirtzman and his partners took over as new owners.

Earlier in the night, Kirtzman post on Facebook:

“Small fires are still burning inside the Pavilion – the dance floor – and it’s too dangerous for firefighters to enter inside. The department has called for bulldozers to be brought here from across the bay, as it may be safer to destroy the Pavilion altogether rather than fight the remaining blazes. It is an unfathomable moment.

The air in the harbor is still thick with smoke, but the fire has not spread anywhere else, thanks to the incredible work of the Pines Fire Department and the departments that raced to its aid. Firefighters will be here through the night to ensure that no flames reignite and create a new threat to the other properties. Canteen, Blue Whale, the hotel and Pantry are all fine. The Suffolk Country Fire Department believes the fire began outside the LaFountaine office, engulfed that building and then spread to the Pavilion. Officials tell me they don’t believe the fire to be suspicious.

Seth, Matt and I want to thank you all for your notes and phone calls. Everyone has a stake in these properties, and the love and passion we all feel for them are ringing loud and clearly this painful evening. Tomorrow morning, Seth, Matt and I will begin the process of renewing this beautiful property and making it even more spectacular than it was before. Our hearts go out to Nicole LaFountaine, Patrick, PJ, Bob Howard and others in the LaFountaine building, and we will help one another get the commercial district ready for summer 2012. There is a lot of hard work ahead for all of us. We feel blessed that no one was injured, and proud to be part of this beautiful community.”

John Whyte first developed the Pines as a gay resort community in the early 1960s, instituting the now-legendary social routine of of “Low Tea” at the Blue Whale followed by “High Tea up at the Pavilion. It its time, the remote beach town—which has no paved roads or sidewalks—has welcomed everyone from Betty Grable and Hedy Lamarr to Calvin Klein and Michael Lucas.

The two large buildings, located near the area of Fire Island Pines Boulevard and Black Duck Walk, will be demolished today.

So far there are no reported injuries nor a known cause for the blaze.