Firefighter, homeowner injured in Freeport blaze

Freeport firefighters help remove an injured firefighter during Freeport firefighters help remove an injured firefighter during a fire on Long Beach Avenue in Freeport. (Jan. 7, 2014) Photo Credit: Lou Minutoli

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A fast-moving basement fire spread to the roof of a Freeport home Tuesday afternoon, trapping and injuring a firefighter after a ceiling collapsed and sending the homeowner to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Both the Freeport firefighter and the homeowner were taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, authorities said. The firefighter sustained non-life-threatening neck and back injuries, said Ray Maguire, executive director of the Freeport Fire Department.

The firefighter was battling the blaze on the second floor of the home on North Long Beach Avenue when part of the ceiling collapsed on him, Maguire said.

The homeowner was rescued from the second floor after he was discovered, and was disoriented by smoke inhalation, Maguire said. He was in stable condition and able to be interviewed at the hospital, said James Hickman, head of investigations at the Nassau County fire marshal's office.

Neither the firefighter nor the homeowner was identified.

Three occupants escaped unharmed from the home before firefighters arrived, Maguire said. A dog was also rescued by a Baldwin firefighter. About 75 to 100 firefighters from five departments fought the blaze in freezing temperatures, with water icing on the ground, Hickman said.

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"The ground freezes, their gear freezes, their equipment freezes," Hickman said. "It's just absolutely treacherous. They did a phenomenal job, getting over all of that."

Maguire said the fire started in the basement of the two-story home at about 3:13 p.m. and was "very aggressive."

He said it "got into the walls and went right up to the roof."

The fire was under control by 4:15 p.m., Maguire said.

Hickman said the fire does not appear to be suspicious and investigators are trying to determine whether it was caused by wiring, a hot-water heater or a furnace. The house had extensive damage, Hickman said. "It's not livable. It won't be for a while," he said.

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