Cop, Huntington fire chief save woman
An 84-year-old disabled woman was carried from her burning apartment Friday by a Suffolk police officer and the Huntington Fire Department chief, officials said.
The woman and officer Joseph Lanzisera were taken by ambulances to Huntington Hospital, police said.
The woman sustained second-degree burns to her face and hair, police said, and Lanzisera was treated for smoke inhalation.
Ken Cochrane, Huntington fire chief and a 22-year volunteer with the department, said Friday was the first time he ever carried someone from a building fire.
"It's a good day," Cochrane said. "Anytime you can help somebody . . . I just care the lady's OK."
Cochrane said he received a 911 call about a fire at the Nathan Hale Apartment Complex at 8:55 p.m.
Lanzisera, 44, and Cochrane, 45, arrived about the same time, he said. From a neighbor they learned that a woman was inside the first-floor smoke-filled apartment at 44 Nathan Hale Drive, police said.
The front door was locked with a dead bolt, police said. Lanzisera climbed through a window and found the women sitting in a chair, officials said.
"She wasn't responding to me," Lanzisera said. "She was moaning. . . . She was covered in black soot."
After unlocking the door to let the fire chief in, Lanzisera and Cochrane returned for the woman and the two men carried her about 20 feet through the heavy smoke from the apartment, officials said.
Cochrane said that, although the entire apartment was filled with dense smoke, the fire appeared to be concentrated around an oxygen machine that the woman apparently used. Deputy Chief Rob Berry went into the apartment and extinguished the fire with the equipment he carried in his chief's car, Cochrane said. The fire was out by the time more firefighters and fire trucks arrived, he said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but may have been caused by the woman smoking, Cochrane said.