Albertson man, 95, dies, wife critical after house fire, say officials

An unconscious elderly couple was pulled from their burning home in Albertson on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. The husband, 95, was pronounced dead at a hospital; his wife, 86, was in critical condition, authorities said. Fire officials said the blaze was confined to the kitchen area and was extinguished about 10 to 15 minutes after firefighters arrived. (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

A 95-year-old Albertson man died Tuesday morning after a house fire that also left his wife critically injured, despite the efforts of two Nassau police officers who pulled them from the burning home, officials said.

The two officers, first to arrive on scene, encountered heavy smoke when they pulled the unconscious couple out of the house, said Insp. Kenneth Lack, a Nassau police spokesman.

Third Precinct officers responded to the home on Park Lane Drive after receiving a 911 call about 10:40 a.m., said police and Albertson Fire Chief Jason Lasek. The officers removed the victims, who were both taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, police said.


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The husband was found inside about 5 feet from the front door. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

His wife, 86, had "collapsed" near the front door, police said. She was transferred in "extremely critical" condition and admitted to Nassau University Medical Center's burn center, said an NUMC spokeswoman.

Authorities did not identify the people found in the home. But public records identified the home's owners and occupants as Henry Golis Sr. and Eleanor Golis, as did neighbors.

The fire does not appear to be suspicious, said James Hickman, head of fire investigations at the Nassau County fire marshal's office. He said the blaze started in the basement, but the exact cause has not been determined.

Jackie Terrizzi, 68, a neighbor, said the couple lived in the house with their grown son, who she said was not home at the time of the fire. He later arrived at the scene, she said, but quickly left.

Terrizzi said Henry Golis Sr. is a retired musician who taught violin and other instruments, and his wife Eleanor Golis is a retired office worker.

"They're the nicest people," Terrizzi said. "He was musically inclined."

The couple lived in the house for about 20 years with their son, Henry Golis Jr., whom neighbors referred to as "Little Henry"; they said he is a music producer. He could not be reached for comment.

Lasek said the blaze was confined to the kitchen area and was extinguished about 10 to 15 minutes after firefighters arrived. In addition to the Albertson department, units from Williston Park, East Williston and Mineola responded.

The first responding police officers were identified as James Duignan, a 28-year veteran of the force, and Scott Thiel, a 28-year police veteran with 19 years in Nassau.

At a news conference outside the Third Precinct in Williston Park, County Executive Edward Mangano and acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter heralded the officers' "heroic efforts."

Thiel said when he touched the door, it was "red hot" and he struggled to get it open because the woman was blocking it. Duignan and Thiel got the woman out first, then returned for the man.

"There was a tremendous amount of heat and thick, black smoke," Thiel said.

With Ellen Yan and

Patricia Kitchen

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