Authorities: Propane tank likely started Melville house fire; 1 dead

An assistant chief with the Melville Fire Department told News 12 that the blaze at 109 Wilmington Drive was likely started by a propane tank at around 4:30 a.m.

Jon Dowding

Dec 26, 2023, 11:36 AM

Updated 210 days ago

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A man was killed in a fire at a Melville home early Tuesday morning, according to Suffolk police.
Melville Fire Department 1st Assistant Chief Donald Barclay told News 12 that the blaze at 109 Wilmington Drive was likely started by a propane tank at around 4:30 a.m. The flames in the area spread to a nearby shed and then the home.
Close to 100 firefighters from several departments worked for two hours to get the fire under control.
Barclay says the roof collapsed, which created challenges for first responders.
"You're climbing over parts of a roof now as opposed to just walking down a hallway," he said. “The fire was able to grow and extend through most of the house because of that additional oxygen and then it makes it a hazard for our guys crawling around inside trying to get to where the fire is."
Neighbors tell News 12 they know of an older man who lived in the home. It is not yet confirmed if the man who was killed is that resident.
A family from a home overlooking the Wilmington Drive house told News 12 that the man has lived there for decades. After they noticed the fire, they rushed to see if he was safe.
"He knocked on all the doors to see if he could wake anyone up, see if anyone was in the house, nobody responded,” said one of the family members.
Bridget lives next door and saw massive flames outside of her bedroom window. She said she’s grateful for the quick actions of the crews on scene.
"I'm happy that the people who came to help were able to get the fire down because [...] it was a very big fire,” she said.
There’s no official word yet on a cause of the fire, but officials say an initial investigation revealed that the cause of the fire appears to be non-criminal in nature.


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