Police: 1 killed in Massapequa Park house fire

Helen Cunningham talks about the deadly fire that cops say killed her neighbor. Videojournalists: Jim Staubitser and Paul Mazza (Feb. 20, 2013)

Firefighters responding to an early morning fire Wednesday that destroyed a Massapequa Park home discovered the body of a man on the second floor.

The identity of the man was not released.

A neighbor said the man was single, in his 50s and lived alone in the house at 97 Van Buren St.


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"He was very quiet, kept to himself," said Diane Rothstadt, 76.

There is no indication that the fire, which was reported in a 911 call just after 1 a.m., was suspicious, Nassau police said.

Rothstadt said the man has two brothers, one of whom lives out of state.

Attempts to reach one of the brothers Wednesday were unsuccessful, but a woman who answered his cellphone said the man's death was "a complete tragedy."

Police said that no one else was in the house at the time of the fire. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by an advanced medical technician at 2:50 a.m.

Kevin Cunningham, 45, a retired New York City police officer who lives across the street from the house, said he went out to his front lawn after he heard dogs barking.

"The house was on fire. It was glowing inside," Cunningham said.

Cunningham called 911 and came back outside.

Two motorists stopped their cars and threw rocks into the house in an attempt to help, he said.

"They were running on the lawn and they were trying to get attention," and said, 'Is anyone in there?' There was no response."

All he could do, Cunningham said, was wait for the fire department to arrive.

"The windows all basically exploded," he said. "They broke out and the flames started coming out the windows everywhere."

With Joseph Mallia

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