By Barbara Gaby PlacillaThursday, July 2, around 2:15 p.m., the fire alarm sounded loud and long. It seemed to go on forever and I thought that it might be malfunctioning. Then my husband’s plectron (firefighter’s radio) went off and I heard that there was a “working structure fire at the Fire Island Resort & Hotel.” The staff house, where most of the hotel workers live, was on fire. Fire, as we all know, is what we fear most on our island since all structures are made of wood and their close proximity can spell disaster if the wind shifts.The firefighters of Ocean Bay Park FD were truly magnificent in their response and kept the fire contained. In total, 120 firefighters from 10 departments worked together to bring the fire under control at around 4:30 p.m. Mutual aid was received from Fire Island Pines, Cherry Grove, Point o’Woods, Ocean Beach, Fair Harbor, Saltaire, Kismet, Bay Shore and Sayville. The OBPFD Auxiliary members aided in keeping the roads clear and provided bottled water to the firefighters at the scene.The fire may have destroyed most of the staff house building, but it did not erase its history or memories. Rita Addo told me, “while doing duty as an Auxiliary member that day, I just realized the house burning was the original ‘Pioneer,’ which was Lou’s and my first share house ever on Fire Island, going back to the 1970s.” John Flynn owned the house at the time. Rita and Lou had the downstairs apartment. Rita and Lou shared “Pioneer” with the late Big Richie Barnes and their “house mascot” was none other than Patty Loesch, who now manages the Fire Island Hotel. Another example of how “six degrees of separation” works in OBP.It started with a brief email that evening from Diane Sweeney: “Should the auxiliary be gathering clothing and toiletries for the kids from the hotel? We can set up a table at the barbecue tomorrow.”So Diane, Ken Klein, Steve Jaffe and I set up a table on Friday beside the bay beach park and we collected some money and clothing. The next day was the annual OBPFD BBQ. Never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate the reaction to the donation table. The community responded as it always does and by the end of the July 4th weekend, we had collected more than $12,000 and clothing donations that required four trips to the hotel in the FD rescue vehicle. The donations were not only from Ocean Bay Park, but from Seaview, Ocean Beach, Point o’Woods and from complete strangers who were here for the day and had heard about the fire. Most of the staff people at the FI Hotel are students from other countries, here on summer work visas. They lost everything they had in the fire. How fitting, that on the weekend our country celebrates its independence, the citizens of Fire Island showed those young people what America is all about.The annual July 4th BBQ was a huge success. The food was great, as always. The bay beach park is in full bloom and families and dogs were enjoying their hamburgers, hot dogs, clams, watermelon and French fries while sitting on the benches with a lucky few at the new chess table. There were lots of familiar faces, some new ones and some I haven’t seen in a while. I was so happy to see the very talented Michael Vannoni, who is working as a music archivist. Michael was surprised to win the raffle grand prize, a TV, and said it was ironic since he rarely watches. I was amazed at how fast the next generation of OBP’ers is coming up. Working the soda gun was Massimo Arcadipane, grandson of Julia and William. Selling hamburgers and hot dogs were Vincent Ficara Jr. and Ben Giangrasso, both sons of the founders of “Starbase.” Helping to sell Firehouse on the Bay T-shirts were Delilah Vannoni and Samantha Gaby, whose big brother, Nicklas, was helping at the donation table for the hotel workers. It’s wonderful to see that the tradition of service to the community is being passed on to the next generation in Ocean Bay Park.The last event of the day, the 50-50 raffle, was won by Ken Klein, who generously gave back to both the Fire Department and the Hotel Workers Fund. As Pam Birnbaum stated on her Facebook page, “No event is really over until Tom Byrnes sings ‘God Bless America,’” which he did, accompanied by Steve Placilla.With July 4th come and gone, the summer season is in full swing and there are lots of visitors, special guests and birthday celebrations throughout the town. Claire O’Neill, fresh from a 17-day river cruise throughout Europe, is visiting with the Supples; Niza Shor-Egan is entertaining her late husband George’s family; and Alison, Rob and Goldie are in residence at the “Love Shack.” Mary Cummins was feted with a dinner party hosted by Barbara Lederberg and attended by Joyce and George Greenberger, Joan and JD DeSerio, Kenny and Diane, Patty Loesch and Dorsy Adler (Bob was off golfing). I heard she loved the birthday cake!Lost and did you find it? Jeannine Pollack lost her tote bag containing her piano music – all Broadway show tunes. If you found it, please contact her at her house, “Rosebud” on Michigan Street.UPCOMING EVENTS:Saturday, July 25 – Auxiliary Denim and Diamonds Cocktail Party fundraiser., from 7:30-11 p.m., at the firehouse. See any Auxiliary member for tickets, which are $35Sunday, Aug. 9 – Run for Rose 5K Race – Course Marshalls are needed to help control street traffic. Please contact Maryann Reuther if you would like to volunteer.Saturday, Aug. 15 – Ocean Bay Park Association Gourmet Fair – volunteers and donations of goods and food are requested. Contact Cami MeyerSaturday, Aug. 29 – Travel Lecture with OBP’s own Peter Greenberg, at the firehouse. Details to followPlease contact me if you any news to report: oceanbaypark@fireisland-news.com.