Exclusive: Owner speaks out after historic Ebo Hill goes up in flames on Long Island

SMITHOWN, Long Island (WABC) -- Nearly two centuries of history went up in flames on Long Island earlier this week when the Ebo Hill mansion burned down.

It was recently purchased and was being restored before the fire. Now, the new owner is speaking out exclusively to Eyewitness News.

Richard Albano says his dream went up in flames in just two minutes Monday night in Smithtown.

"Flames shooting out of every window," he said. "I was devastated. I mean, such a dream for me. There's so much history."

Albano, who was the new owner of the property on Edgewood Avenue, described many of the events leading up to the fire that ripped through the historical home.

Albano said he flipped eight houses to raise enough money to buy the landmark home, and he closed on it just 18 days before the fire.

Ebo Hill dates back to 1843 and was once owned by descendants of the Smith family, which founded Smithtown back in 1665. Albano was hoping to restore Ebo Hill to its former glory.

He said there was a crack in the home's old chimney, which inspectors didn't know about. He had been lighting fires in the fireplace to stay warm while the restoration work was going on, and there were some lingering embers. On Monday evening, a worker heard a loud bang.

"He extinguished the fire immediately, and he said as soon as he did that, he heard a loud crackling from upstairs," Albano said. "I guess with the heat, it probably expanded the opening of the crack."

That's when the fire jumped to the wall.

As for the historical loss, the town historian in Smithtown said it's truly a shame. The mansion, one of 600 properties of historical significance, in a community that strongly values its roots.

"It's a small piece," historian Brad Harris said. "It was really quite elegant. We have photos of what the interior looked like."

Albano insists he had the best of intentions.

"This house was going back together," he said. "Everything was going so much better than planned."

He had hoped to move in soon. Now, he says he'll do his best to replicate Ebo Hill, if costs will allow it.

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