Firefighters Saved Ron Perelman's East Hampton House at the Creeks

Size, location of the house presented challenges for firefighters, chiefs say
East Hampton Fire Department's 95-foot tower ladder truck helped firefighters to extinguished a fire at Ron Perelman's 15,000-square-foot house in East Hampton Village Friday night. Michael Heller photos

A strategic attack stopped flames from spreading throughout the main house at the Creeks, an East Hampton estate owned by Ron Perelman, the billionaire chairman of Revlon, on Friday night, officials said this weekend.

"They did a great job, under difficult circumstances due to the location of the fire and extreme heat," Village Police Chief Mike Tracey said Saturday.

Dispatchers received a call at about 9:50 p.m. from staff at the Creeks reporting a fire in the attic, according to Brian Stanis, the second assistant chief of the East Hampton Fire Department. Chief Tracey said no one, other than staff, was there at the time.  

When the first responding officers arrived at 291 Montauk Highway, they found flames already through the roof on the back of the house, a 15,000-square-foot mansion that faces Georgica Pond, First Assistant Chief Jamalia Hayes said by phone Saturday evening.

Fire chiefs immediately called for assistance from Sag Harbor Fire Department. Firefighters began "an aggressive interior attack," Chief Stanis said adding that it helped to keep the main body of the fire to the center of the house, where it originated in the attic, which has a living space.

Once the department's 95-foot tower ladder truck arrived, firefighters doused the flames from the aerial ladder and knocked down the fire. Firefighters were pulled out of the building twice so that the team in a bucket at the end of the ladder could work without a threat to the firefighters inside, Chief Stanis said. No injuries were reported.

The chiefs said the fire was under control in about 45 minutes, but was not fully extinguished for about two and a half hours. The East Hampton Village fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire. The chiefs would not speculate about a possible cause, though it does not appear to be suspicious.

A portion of the roof and attic was destroyed. The first and second floors sustained water and smoke damage. "It could have gone a lot worse real fast," Chief Stanis said.

Chief Tracey, who responded with his Police Department that night, agreed. "They stopped it from spreading further and saved the rest of the house."

Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Mr. Perelman, said the damage was still be assessed. "Thankfully, Ronald, Anna and the rest of the family were not at the house at the time and there were no injuries to any staff who were on the property," Mr. Vlasto said. "On behalf of Ronald and Anna, we want to thank all the brave local firefighters and police for their extraordinary response."

There was an effort to save belongings, including artwork, the chiefs confirmed. Mr. Perelman is a known art collector. 

Chiefs Hayes and Stanis agreed that the location of the fire presented some unique challenges. Despite a hydrant on the property, firefighters needed a secondary source of water and laid 5,000 feet of hose from a hydrant on Montauk Highway near Daniel's Hole Road. The highway was closed to traffic between Stephen Hand's Path, at the edge of East Hampton Village, and Wainscott-Northwest Road in Wainscott for several hours while firefighters worked.

Also, there are multiple driveways leading to the residence on the nearly 6o-acre estate, making it difficult to navigate the property, they said. "The challenge was as far back as it was," Chief Hayes said of the house.

There was a brief discussion about drafting water out of Georgica Pond, but the chiefs said it was quickly dismissed because they could not get trucks close enough to the pond to drop hoses into the water.

In all, 125 firefighters from East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Amagansett, Springs, and Southampton Fire Departments battled the blaze. The Montauk Fire Department stood by at East Hampton's Firehouse, after Springs, which initially had that task, was asked to respond to the fire itself. "We thank all the fire departments, we also want to thank the East Hampton Village police and the East Hampton Village ambulance," whose members checked on firefighters after they went into the building, Chief Hayes said.

"Because of the great assistance from our mutual aid departments we were basically able to isolate the fire to a general area of origin," Chief Stanis said.

While some of the neighboring departments went home around 2:30 a.m., some East Hampton firefighters were on scene until 3:45 a.m. cleaning up. "It was not easy to clean up," Chief Hayes said of the 5,000 feet of hose that had to be picked up after the fire was extinguished. It took about an hour and 45 minutes just to pack up the hose and neatly put it away on the trucks so that firefighters would be ready for the next call.

This article has been updated since it was originally published.