Fire Island Pines Owner Andrew Kirtzman Releases Statement on Fire, Damage


Last night I posted about the devastating fire that gutted several buildings in the Fire Island Pines Harbor. Andrew Kirtzman, who with Seth Weissman and Matthew Blesso, own the properties, released a statement several hours ago.

KirtzmanKirtzman's statement, via Facebook:

This is is obviously a very difficult night for all of us, and I wanted to give everyone a status report from the scene of the fire.

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.

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. Then roof over the Pavilion is gone, and the high tea deck has been destroyed.

Small fires are still burning inside the Pavilion – the dance floor – and it's too dangerous for firefighters to enter inside. The department has called for bulldozers to be brought here from across the bay, as it may be safer to destroy the Pavilion altogether rather than fight the remaining blazes. It is an unfathomable moment.

The air in the harbor is still thick with smoke, but the fire has not spread anywhere else, thanks to the incredible work of the Pines Fire Department and the departments that raced to its aid. Firefighters will be here through the night to ensure that no flames re-ignite and create a new threat to the other properties. Canteen, Blue Whale, the hotel and Pantry are all fine.

The Suffolk Country Fire Department believes the fire began outside the LaFountaine office, engulfed that building and then spread to the Pavilion. Officials tell me they don't believe the fire to be suspicious.

Seth, Matt and I want to thank you all for your notes and phone calls. Everyone has a stake in these properties, and the love and passion we all feel for them are ringing loud and clearly this painful evening. Tomorrow morning, Seth, Matt and I will begin the process of renewing this beautiful property and making it even more spectacular than it was before. Our hearts go out to Nicole LaFountaine, Patrick, PJ, Bob Howard and others in the LaFountaine building, and we will help one another get the commercial district ready for summer 2012. There is a lot of hard work ahead for all of us.

We feel blessed that no one was injured, and proud to be part of this beautiful community.

Blaze Destroys Pavilion, Other Structures at Fire Island Pines [tr]

(image newsday)



  1. Eric Payne says

    When this new group purchased the properties a couple/five years ago, wasn’t it publicly noted they paid an excessive amount (above market) for the properties (I belive I read that here on Towleroad).

    And, just last year (or possibly the year before), didn’t Towleroad had a piece, linked to Newsday, that revealed the new owners wanted to change their clientele from gay to “mixed crowd”?

    I agree with @Fenrox. Arson. Insurance Fraud.

    @Joe, the reason you “should know this place or even care about it…”? You shouldn’t; I didn’t, and I finished college in NY; I just wasn’t one of those Fire Island fags.

    If you’ve seen “Longtime Companion,” or just about any episode of Logo’s “The A-List,” you’ve seen, at least, the “upper tea deck.”

  2. Steve says

    How convenient that this would happen just after the summer season ends – after all the cash is in the bank, and they have 6 months to rebuild the place…..hmmmmm.

  3. Amelia says

    The Fire Island Pines is a place wonderful loving people. Eric Payne you have no rights to call it a place for “Fire Island Fags”. You are ignorant and I find your language extremely offensive. Those who live in the Pines are some of the sweetest kindest friendliest people I have come to meet. I am a Long Islander who has grown up working summers in the Pines and I have come to love this place fiercely, and my heart goes out to the entire community and I am thankful that the damage was not furthered and that no one was injured. We have many great firefighters on Long Island, thank you all!

  4. Shafiq says

    The place was brand new, just renovated 3 years ago,and renovations paid for by previous owners. There was no reason to burn it down. Not to mention it was the two structures that went down and they had different owners. Plus no one would want to burn something down on fire island considering how hard it is to get permits to rebuild. It is a very unfortunate situation and really not a time for ignorant people to be making accusations and hateful statements

  5. PKNY says

    And yet Hotel Ciel will remain unscathed in its moldy glory to reopen for yet another season of musty mildewy overpriced concrete fun

  6. Eric Payne says


    Please learn to read for context.

    I spoke of “The A-List” and also made the statement “Fire Island Fags.”

    During the time I lived in NY, Fire Island seemed to be a lure for two types of gay men: Older, genteel men who luxuriated in their wealth, and the young twinks who gravitated to those men. No offense was meant.

    I also don’t see a problem with my language, as I’m one of those persons who believe words only hurt if I give them the power to hurt me. I was born with a physical defect a lot of people consider hideous, primarily because it’s not only physically unusual, but it doesn’t seem to be debilitating. Because of that, people have attempted to taunt me concerning it all my life (even now, in my 50s, you wouldn’t believe the number of adults – 30 yo+ who make comment when I pass). So I’m a fag and a freak – BFD… I’ve also been in a relationship with the same man for 17 years, am in my second year of marriage, and am, generally, happy.

  7. MT says

    Ironically the Hotel Ciel was built in response to another fire. Those cinder blocks may be hideous, but they are there for exactly this reason.

  8. GustyWinds says

    Eric have you been to Fire Island, to make such seems awfully brash. Originally in the 1800’s Fire Island Pines and it’s neighboring sister the more bohemian Cherry Grove were for straight people. Heading into the 1940’s many actors and gay artist types found it a haven to be themselves. Fire Island is part of our gay history and culture. I reside in Cherry Grove and in the 1980’s the island was almost decimated with the AIDS crisis. With the islands lesbians nursing and eventually burying their friends. Yes the Pines does have a lot of wealthy gay men, so does NYC. And yes there are some young twinks looking for that, but to make a sweeping generalization isn’t fair. I happen to reside in Cherry grove because I love the mix of Gays, Lesbians, and Drag Queens, All of NYC’s best are in the Grove. The Pines actually has to “borrow” them. Yes there is pretentsion, yes there is eliteism. There are also families, children, singles etc. The island is what you make it. Remember, it’s like the New articles of the gay Pride parade, they don’t show you everything.

  9. DAN says

    Eric Payne, if you’re so happy, why do you feel the need to rain on other people’s parade?

    Fag is a derogatory word, and yes, even still within the LGBT community. Homophobia will never end if people like you continue to abuse those types of words.

    The only thing stopping you from being a Fire Islander is/was yourself. Like many have said here before, while 20% of inhabitants may enjoy the “scene” you described–the parties, the booze and the wealth–there are hundreds more who sought the Pines as a retreat, an LGBT community, and a second home. And guess what, they’re not all glam and beauty, they’re all human beings like you and I. Some are hot, some are not, but to all, its a community that suffered a tragedy (whether or not this was arson/fraud — businesses and a homeowner alike).

    Lastly, I commend your extraordinary ability, as you describe it, to rebuff the verbal or judgmental abuses you have suffered throughout your years. I truly believe you are better off for that, whereas others who are not as strong (but may be prettier) have succumbed to judgements and found themselves depressed, irrational, addicted to drugs, or dead.

    So yes, we sympathize, we understand, but there is no reason to put others down — we’re all (for the most part) trying to become better people. There’s no need for anyone, including you, to go against the grain.

  10. FI Year Round Resident says

    Please remember to say thank you to all the VOLUNTEER firefighters who responded from the Point ‘oWoods, Ocean Bay Park, Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor, Saltaire and Kismet Fire Departments. If not for these men and women, the results would have been even more disastrous. This is an example of the true spirit of Fire Island community who look out for each other regardless of which community or its orientation.

  11. John Farley says

    Gusty, thanks for looping us into the history of the 1800’s in Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove! That’s when the dinosaurs still roamed there, right?

    Sheesh, what’s that awful smell?

  12. Jacqueline Jonée says

    This is for Joe. You have no idea what you are writing. That is a very sad time. Take a look at yourself. Period. Think about what you are commenting on. It is NOT about YOU. Can you fathom that? Your language is offensive to all intelligent aware people.

  13. John Farley says

    And Eric, your memory is a little windy too connecting A-List New York and the Pavilion. Though admittedly not a fan or frequent viewer, I recall High Tea once on the series, perhaps, and the Pines itself only twice, and also friends making jokes that, judging by the number of times the cast changed their swimsuits, it was all filmed on a day trip.

  14. Jim says

    Reading these comments here makes my heart sink at how horrible gay men can be to one another. I am a proud resident of the Pines for 23 years, a property owner for 6, and I have a physical and emotional stake in the place. I am neither a young twink nor a genteel older man enjoying my wealth. I’m just a guy with a husband trying to be happy, and I’m always happy in the Pines. I’ve met most of my lifelong friends there. This is a nightmare for the community, as the two major meeting places have been destroyed. I personally plan to do everything I can to help them rebuild and regroup. This fire was a horrible tragedy and thank God it didn’t spread to homes, like mine, that are right next door to it. Idiots who post know nothing and bitter comments here should just keep their mouths shut and try to do some good for people, if they can, which seems doubtful.

  15. AlexPH says

    Has no doubt there are great people at the Pines and that there are aspects that make it a great community. But to defend some others here, I’ve been twice and both times found it exactly the type of place many describe it as – a slew of Manhattan manwhores who I’m sure get shares and party the summer away. Not saying that is a bad thing. But as an infrequent visitor, it’s hard to not deny that is the image when you arrive. And is what struck me as quite different from the other East Coast gay beaches of Rehoboth and Ptown.

    I’m sure if you are there often and off season you meet the real residents. It is what it is, take it or leave it. It’ll get rebuilt.

  16. Bruce Devlin says

    Dear Friends,
    I was shocked by the news of last night and heart broken along with a rush of many feelings..However I also remember all the wonderful parties and times we all shared there. It was my first experience of Gay life upon coming out. No one could ask for a better place to go to in the 80tys of my intro to Gay life..It will be all thoses wondeful times that will get us all through this and the zest and excitment looking forward to the rebuiling of the Pines and all the new and wonderful times once more..Its a turning of a page of life something we have all done so many times, only fools would have there bitter remarks of which I wouldn’t even address..People can take much from us but only if we let them in to do so…On with the show and I can’t wait to see all of it once more..I feel like coming out there with a hammer and nails in my hand-:) God Bless All

  17. Jon says

    @ Eric Payne:

    Let me get this straight: you don’t know the Pines, you’ve never been there, and your impression of it is based on a 1989 movie and a cable reality series.

    And yet you know enough to dismiss the entire community (in yes, a derogatory way) and even pass judgement on the source of the fire?


  18. Hung Hank says

    Pity more of it didn’t burn down. The most hateful nasty place. Unfriendliest fags solely interested in sex. The most pretentious self absorbed crowd. Unsafe sex is preferred and that hideous Pavilion was a cesspool.

  19. John says

    In response to “Hung Hank”. Hung is what you should be. With a barbed wire noose. You are a disgusting foul person. Be assured that the flames which destroyed that beautiful place are but a match light in comparison to the fires which will burn you in hell for all of eternity. Those who are joyful and judgmental at others pain are evil.

    If you can’t say anything nice then SHUT UP!

  20. Doug says

    Wow. What an amazing range of responses. While I am sure good will come of it, it’s painful in the moment, and will take an immense amount of hard work to overcome.

    As Jim said, I’m neither a rich man nor a twink. I typically come to Fire Island once a year for a week with dear friends, and for me it’s a magical place. It’s one of the few places on the earth where I feel like I can walk around without 37 protective layers between me and everyone else. My experience of Fire Island is acceptance, beauty, love. My wish is that we may all feel more of those.

  21. Eric Payne says


    You must have missed where I said, in my first post in this thread, that I had graduated college in NYC (Manhattan), and that the impression I had of Fire Island (when I lived in Manhattan) was that of genteel older gay men, and the twinks to which they were attraced… and that opinion was only reinforced later (much, much later… decades later) by “Longtime Companion” and “the A-List.”

    I should also have stated “Longtime Companion”, concerned itself with the early 80s, and covered the time period I lived in NYC.

  22. says

    Beyond upset!!!! I am a former canteen girl and am so happy no one in the community was hurt!!! This summer has got to be better than ever 2012 FIRE ISLAND PINES SUMMER PERFECTED <3

  23. DAN says

    Oh yes, Eric Payne. The A-List, a show devoted to a handful of vapid queens, is a SPOT-ON representation of gay life.

    We should all use that show to reinforce our arms-length opinions of anything and everything gay.

    Brilliant conversation taking place here.

  24. Andrew says

    The beauty of the ocean and beach in the Pines cannot be denied. I rented houses there for 15 years and finally had the good sense to get the hell out. The place is filled with vapid, vacuous borderline alcoholics and drug addicts. If you’re not sucking up booze, doing drugs,or acting out sexually, there really isn’t much to do in the Pines. No one speaks to one another there, and if you cannot put a scowl on your face and dance to mindless music at Sip n Twirl or the Pavilion, what is the point of taking that ferry across the bay? I never found much of a ‘ community ‘ there–and never wanted to invest my money a poorly constructed, mildewy, horribly over priced house there. For god sakes, how many times can a guy walk up and down that friggin beach ? Sorry the harbor burned.