The physical attributes of the island have changed over time and they continue to change. At one point it stretched more than 60 miles (97 km) from Jones Beach Island to Southampton.
Around 1683, Fire Island Inlet broke through, separating it from Jones Beach Island.
The Fire Island Inlet grew to 9 miles (14 km) in width before receding. The Fire Island Lighthouse was built in 1858, right on the inlet, but Fire Island’s western terminus at Democrat Point has steadily moved west so that the lighthouse today is 6 miles (10 km) from the inlet.
Fire Island separated from Southampton in a 1931 Nor’easter when Moriches Inlet broke through. However, this was expected. The inlet widened on September 21, 1938. Moriches Inlet and efforts by local communities east of Fire Island to protect their beach front with jetties have led to an interruption in the longshore drift of sand going from east to west and is blamed for erosion of the Fire Island beachfront. Between these major breaks there have been reports over the years of at least six inlets that broke through the island but have since disappeared. Read more