Memory Lane

MEMORY LANE

CONNETQUOT, NEW YORK

Connetquot River State Park Fire

Vincent Vaughn, district resident since the late 1970s, recalled for us a frightful fire that occurred in the Connetquot River State Park soon after he moved to the area. In researching the blaze, we learned it began on the morning of May 7, 1981. (1) The weather that day, dry with gusting winds, caused the fire to quickly spread and become out-of-control. Fearing homes on Sycamore and Madison were at risk, the Suffolk County Police Department evacuated some of those street residents. (2) The dense smoke, reported to be seen as far away as 30 miles, also forced officials to close Sunrise Highway in both directions. (3) To battle the blaze, the Town of Islip brought in several bulldozers to widen fire lanes and create plow barriers between the burning underbrush and the unaffected areas. (4) It took the 550 volunteers of 32 fire departments about seven hours to bring it under control and an additional five hours to completely extinguish the blaze. (5) When it was over, approximately 500 acres of the Connetquot River State Park were destroyed. (6) Fortunately, there was no loss of human life or homes. Mr. Vaughn’s memory reminded us of how indebted we are to the volunteer fire fighters who have risked their lives to protect our community from this and other would-be calamities.

  1. “Shadow of Doom Cast Over Connetquot Park,” Suffolk County News, May 14, 1981, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed May 15, 2015).
  2. “Firefighters Battle Blaze in L.I. State Park,” New York Times, May 8, 1981, digital image, (ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Times (1851-2010): accessed May 22, 2015.
  3. “Shadow of Doom Cast Over Connetquot Park,” Suffolk County News, May 14, 1981, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed May 15, 2015).
  4. “Firefighters Battle Blaze in L.I. State Park,” New York Times, May 8, 1981, digital image, (ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Times (1851-2010): accessed May 22, 2015.
  5. “Shadow of Doom Cast Over Connetquot Park,” Suffolk County News, May 14, 1981, digital image, Old Fulton New York Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed May 15, 2015).
  6. “Seven Hours of Destruction,” Newsday, May 9, 1981, digital image, (ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Newsday (1940-1986): accessed May 22, 2015.

Vincent Vaughn Interview