Fire Destoys Summer Cottage in Sagaponack

The Red Cottage was already gutted by flames when the Bridgehampton Fire Department was called Friday afternoon. Michael Heller

An old summer house in Sagaponack known as the “red cottage” burned almost to the ground in a fast-moving fire on Friday afternoon. Only a few walls and the charred frame of a stove remained after flames raced through the one-bedroom building.

Several passers-by called 911 at about 1:05 p.m. after spotting smoke coming from the house, at 144 Town Line Road. Dating from the 1940s, it is just south of Daniel’s Lane, north of the ocean behind a row of hedges. No one was at the house at the time.

The Bridgehampton Fire Department responded, and Chief Jeff White, worried that the flames may have been coming from one of the many larger houses in that neighborhood, called for assistance from the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and North Sea Fire Departments. By the time firefighters arrived, the cottage was fully engulfed in flames. It was possible that a primary wire shorted out and fell on the house, the chief suggested, starting the blaze. Propane had leaked from a large, aboveground storage tank and ignited, he said, sending flames 40 feet into the air.

The wind was blowing toward the water. “If the winds had been blowing differently, it would have been worse,” the chief said; the large main house on the property could have gone up as well. There were no injuries. 

On Tuesday, Brian Williams, a Southampton Town fire marshal, said the cause was “still up in the air.” The investigation is continuing. 

According to a 2015 article in The Star, John P. Crain’s grandparents owned three cottages on the property, which is about an acre in size. One of them, which had been moved from nearby dunes in the 1920s or ’30s, was dismantled in 2012 to make way for a larger house. The third cottage is now the only one left.