When the call came in at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday for West Islip's volunteer firefighters to head out to fight the brush fires that have been raging in eastern Suffolk's Pine Barrens region, they went without hesitation.
"I was sleeping when I got the call," West Islip firefighter Donald DeStefano told Newsday. "They need help, all right, I'll go."
DeStefano, a West Islip volunteer for five years and an ambulance driver at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center, spent much of the day at the center of the wildfire. "We passed a home that burned down, lots of trailers, lots of trees were down," he told the paper Tuesday.
Fellow West Islip volunteer Travis Sass, 22, described to Newsday the intensity of fighting the brush fire.
"You're getting hit by branches," Sass said. "You're getting hit in the face. You have to duck and still keep putting the water on the flames."
Both DeStefano and Sass spent about three hours Tuesday dousing flames in thick, burning brush.
"I just like being involved," DeStefano told Newsday. "This is why I do this."
West Islip Fire Department Chief Blaise Gemellaro echoed DeStefano's statement.
“The volunteers never ask for anything. This is what they do, this is what they signed on for," Gemellaro told the Long Island Press.
"You can't even put a price tag on it," he said. "They're out there 19 hours and the only thing they get is a cup of coffee."
Though New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a State of Emergency in Suffolk County Tuesday afternoon, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the blaze has been .
The fire has damaged roughly 1,000 acres of eastern Suffolk woodlands. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Suffolk County police Arson Squad detectives.
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