A compromised brick and mortar chimney caused a fire that broke out around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night at the historic Belle Crest Inn on Shelter Island Wednesday night.
Shelter Island Police also reported that one fireman sustained a minor burn injury for which he was he was hospitalized. The blaze, which police said had engulfed the third story attic space, was quickly brought under control by firefighters from the Shelter Island, Greenport and Sag Harbor Fire Departments.
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The Belle Crest Inn is located at 163 North Ferry Road, known also as Route 114, and is described as a "grand old Victorian" inn built as a guesthouse in the early 1900s, according to its website. Police investigators said that the fire was non-criminal in nature and was the result of a compromised brick and mortar chimney.
A motorist passing by the inn noticed the fire and notified the owners of the house, Herbert and Yvonne Loinig, who left the scene safely, police said.
Aimee Loinig, the daughter of the owners who came from Connecticut to the house Thursday morning, confirmed that the damage was “pretty bad” throughout the house but was thankful her parents, who have owned the 100-year-old Belle Crest since 1984, were not hurt.
“I call my parents every night to say goodnight – I’m an only child – and 10 minutes later I got a call that my parents’ house was on fire,” she said. “If that person wouldn’t have stopped and knocked on the door, if would have been worse – they were just about to go to sleep.”
Aimee said that the third story of the building is gone and that the rest of the house is completely water-logged or damaged from firefighters hacking through. The business is seasonal and closed for the winter.
“Thank God we did not have any guests and that everyone is still alive,” she said. “That’s all we can really focus on at the moment.”