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Inferno Engulfs Businesses in Cherry Grove, Fire Island

Friday Mar 27, 2015

UPDATE: The fire appears to have destroyed the Cherry Grove Beach Hotel. The Ice Palace is damaged, but standing.More information on the fire here.

A huge fire that sparked overnight has done extensive damage to the gay vacation destination of Cherry Grove on Fire Island.The legendary Ice Palace nightclub and Cherry Grove Beach Hotel are among the victims of the blaze. Long Island News 12.com reports.

The fire was first reported around 1:30 AM, at which time numerous fire departments from Fire Island were called to battle the flames. Fire companies Sayville, West Sayville and seven other mainland fire departments and ambulance companies on Long Island travelled by boat across the Great South Bay to fight the inferno.

According to PIX 11 News, of 5:45 AM the fire was still burning.

A spokesperson was unsure of the full extent of the fire's damage, but said that many buildings including the Ice Palace nightclub, Cherry Grove Beach and Holly House were engulfed in the blaze that was affecting "the entire downtown business district" near Holly and Bayview Walks.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the blaze and were taken to a hospital, the spokes person said.

The Ice Palace nightclub is a social institution in the Cherry Grove, one of two gay communities on Fire Island. It is the site of promoter Daniel Nardicio's annual summer series that includes his weekly underwear parties and cabaret series. In recent years, its stage has played host to some of the biggest gay icons in the business including Lady Gaga, Liza Minnelli, Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, John Waters and Justin Vivian Bond.

With its lack of roads and narrow wooden boardwalks, fires are particularly devastating on Fire Island. Off-season, when the island's communities are deserted, they can be catastrophic. In November of 2011, a fire that took 400 local firefighters to battle destroyed the Pavilion and Sip 'N Twirl nightclubs in neighboring gay community Fire Island Pines. Both businesses have since been rebuilt.

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