As a near noon on Tuesday, and officials started dropping "water bombs" to douse the area and contain the fire's spread, a handful of volunteer fire crews sat on benches outside Saints Peter and Paul Church - the staging area for Suffolk County Fire and Rescue Emergency Services and its cooperating units - and enjoyed a welcome respite.
"This is much appreciated," said Tony Mussumeci, with the St. James Fire Department, finishing up a Panera Bread panini. "They're doing a good job taking care of us."
Four hundred sandwiches, soups, and cookies donated by area Panera Bread outlets was just one of a few examples of volunteers helping out the dozens of volunteer fire departments battling the fire.
Local pastor Jerry Halpin, with , called up the manager of the Riverhead store Friday morning, he said, asking for help making 400 meals. Fifteen minutes later, he got a call back from manager Steve Plath saying that Panera could do the work - and the food would be donated for people on the ground in Manorville.
"Anytime the community needs us, it's nice to give back to the people who help support us," said Randy DeVelvis, area director for Panera Bread.
Halpin continued to work with the Salvation Army until he had to attend a wake, being relieved by fellow volunteers - and more donations. Jonathan Ross with the Salvation Army said that Monday night, five volunteers doled out what goods they had and Tuesday, another seven to eight lent a hand. Stop & Shop also dropped off water and fruit for people at the staging area, making two trips, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Also at the staging area, local ambulance corps - from Middle Island, Cutchogue, Islip, and Shirley - waited by for any firefighter who might need a helping hand. Luckily, the opportunity rarely presented itself. Three individuals were hospitalized during the fire.
"Honestly, it just mostly been people with brush in their eyes," Capt. Tom Bair, with Exchange Ambulance of the Islips.
A Springs fire chief as they filled up on gas, asking what she could do to help.
"They told her the Red Cross had set up at that point at a Roman Catholic Church in Wading River with food and refreshments," said First Assistant Chief Ben Miller. "Still, the woman insisted on buying the firefighters water. She wanted to buy 12 cases, the firefighters convinced her to only get five.
"It's nice to see the community really come together. It's a nice little pat on the back. Small gestures go a long way," he said.
With reporting from Taylor Vecsey.