A fast-moving fire badly damaged a Ronkonkoma home early yesterday and sent three occupants who narrowly escaped the blaze - a 50-year-old man, his 27-year-old daughter and her 2-year-old daughter - to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Suffolk police said.

The three victims were taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, police said. At the request of the family, hospital officials said they would not release the conditions or the names of the victims.

Investigators with the Suffolk police arson section said the fire probably began in the basement of the Ontario Street home at about 3:40 a.m. and quickly burned through to the roof. The cause did not appear to be suspicious, police said, but the investigation is ongoing.

Firefighters from the Lakeland, Holbrook, Central Islip, Hauppauge and Ronkonkoma fire departments battled the blaze until it was brought under control at 5:38 a.m., officials said

Marilyn Carrano, who lives next door with her husband, said she first realized something was wrong when she got up at about 3:40 a.m. and looked out her bedroom window to see the orange glow of flames coming from her neighbor's one-story home.

"I opened the blinds and saw flames shooting out of the house," Carrano said.

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The 30-foot maple tree separating their two homes was also ablaze, and smoke from the fire began pouring into her window, Carrano said. The heat from the blaze began melting the aluminum siding on Carrano's house, she said.

Carrano said she woke her husband, who called 911, and she rushed out of her house in her pajamas and was soon banging on the front door of the burning house. She soon heard a man outside the burning house yell, "Please somebody come and help us."

The man, his daughter and her daughter were standing on the side of their house and he had placed the toddler on a bed of leaves on the other side of a 4-foot-high fence. Carrano said she scooped up the child while the other two scaled the fence. She then escorted the three to the street and away from the flames.

"I didn't even think," Carrano said, explaining why she helped her neighbors. "I just reacted."