The Pavilion dance club in Fire Island was destroyed late Monday night by a fire that savaged the Pines gay resort district, affecting several other establishments in the area, according to the Wall Street Journal, and other sources. Fire firefighters fought the blaze through the night early Tuesday in a struggle that added irony to the island's name.
Andrew Kirtzman, a former WCBS-TV political correspondent, is part-owner of the torched club and resides in Fire Island. The other club's other owners are Seth Weissman and Matthew Blesso. A distraught Kirtzman recounted his ordeal on Facebook:
I am outside the Pavilion building, surrounded by over 100 firefighters from across Long Island. The fire is under control but is not completely out, said Kirtzman on his Facebook page. Both the Pavilion and LaFountaine buildings are still standing, but they have been completely gutted by fire and water. Sip n' Twirl, the Bistro and the stores below them are in ruin. The roof over the Pavilion is gone, and the high-tea deck has been destroyed.
Forty-three fire companies responded to the scene with 400 firefighters working to extinguish the flames. This was difficult because The Pines summer community is a series of wood structures and boardwalks. The Pavilion was the site an enourmous dance party known as HighTea. Mr. Kirtzman said that, while The Pavilion suffered a great deal of damage, many other properties remained undamaged, according to the New York Times.
While an island with fire in its name may seem predictive of mighty blazes, the link is actually a simple twist of fate. The origin of the name Fire Island has nothing to do with fires. One theory holds that the island was originally called Five Islands and over time, it slowly morphed in the vernacular into Fire Island. Another more dramatic theory suggests that pirates would camp out on the beach of this barrier island and build fires to lead cargo ships navigators' astray, so they would crash onto the beach and fall prey to plunderers.
While no such nefarious motives for the present fire are, at this time, suspected, fire officials have not been able to uncover the immediate cause of the blaze, which is still under investigation.