One dead after fire at Lattingtown estate house

An early morning fire struck a large house

An early morning fire struck a large house at 357 Lattingtown Road in Lattingtown on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

A woman was killed Thursday morning in a Lattingtown blaze that destroyed a cottage and then severely damaged a former Gold Coast estate house.

The victim died at the scene of the blaze that appears to have started in a cottage attached to a large residence at 357 Lattingtown Rd., Locust Valley Fire Chief Brian Nolan said Thursday. At least three others in the main house were apparently uninjured, he said.

The Nassau Fire Marshall and the police Arson/Bomb Squad recovered the victim's body "believed to be the daughter of the homeowners" a police news release said. But the victim's identity is being withheld pending an investigation by the Medical Examiners Office, the release said.


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According to records, the home is currently owned by Mary and Timothy Williams.

The 14,000-square-foot, 30-room residence was owned in the 1920s by socialite, heiress and thoroughbred racehorse owner Isabel Dodge Sloane and later by opera singer Patrice Munsel. The estate had been known as "The Dormer House" and "Lockjaw Ridge."

The fire, which took more than seven hours to get under control, quickly spread from the cottage to the main house, Nolan said.

The victim was living in the cottage, Nolan said. The others from the main house were transported to the fire department for food and shelter, he said.

Lattingtown Mayor Clarence Michalis, 92, said he reached out to Mary Williams, as did members of the Williams' church, St. John's of Lattingtown Episcopal Church, to see how he could help.

"In all the years I lived here, I can't recall anyone losing a life in a fire," the mayor said.

Nolan said the homeowner called police after she was awakened by a strong burning smell. The fire department received a report of a house fire with people trapped and was dispatched around 4:30 a.m., Nolan said. The homeowners had tried unsuccessfully to enter the cottage, police said.

Firefighters from about a dozen departments arrived within minutes to find the cottage engulfed in flames and struggled to battle the blaze amid yesterday's nor'easter.

"The weather was a big hindrance. We had about six to eight inches of snow out there. It was snowing heavily," Nolan said.

"The trucks, they were getting stuck in the driveway; it was a long driveway, uphill," Nolan said.

He said four fire chiefs tried unsuccessfully to enter the cottage. "We were met with an intense wall of fire," Nolan said. One police officer and three firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated and released at area hospitals.

The cause of the fire doesn't appear suspicious, police said.

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