Residents try to salvage goods from fire-wrecked house

Jorge Garcia, 29, recovers belongings at a burned Jorge Garcia, 29, recovers belongings at a burned down home in Wyandanch, N.Y. (Nov. 28, 2013) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Some residents who were displaced by a fire that ripped through a Wyandanch home Wednesday were back at the house on Thanksgiving trying to recover some of their damaged belongings.

The fire left only a shell of the 2-story Washington Avenue house, with the roof entirely collapsed. Thursday, parts of the house were also heavily flooded.

Wyandanch Fire Company First Assistant Chief Chris Miller said they are waiting for a determination by the Suffolk County Arson Squad and the Town of Babylon Fire Marshals about what caused the fire. He said that information is expected to come sometime next week. The rental house was occupied by four families, he said.

Daniel Morales, 36, emerged from a back window of the house yesterday afternoon wearing flip-flops and the same clothes he had been wearing since Wednesday, when the early afternoon fire unexpectedly forced all 11 occupants into the cold, windy rain. No one was injured.

Morales, a Honduras native, is married with two young children, and had lived at the house for two years. He returned Thursday to salvage whatever he could, he said. He and a friend removed several soaked bags of clothes and personal belongings and packed them into his car.

He also grabbed his wife's wallet, hoping to save some of their papers and their children's papers, though almost everything was wet and ruined, he said in Spanish.

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"My wife is still recovering from the C-section she had" to give birth to their second daughter, who is 16 days old, Morales said Thursday. Now the family of four is homeless. They and some of their housemates are staying at a hotel in Farmingdale, courtesy of the American Red Cross, until Monday, but after that, they will have no place to live. Some of the displaced residents are staying with relatives.

On Wednesday, Jessica Molina, 21, said she narrowly escaped with her 4-month-old daughter. Molina was cooking in the kitchen when, she said, the fire exploded out of the basement door behind her.

The 11 residents of the house spent the afternoon and evening Wednesday at the Wyandanch Community Resource Center while the Red Cross worked out details of where they would stay for the next few days.

"It's emotional," said resource center executive director Kimberly Jean-Pierre. "This could happen to any one of us."

With Veronica Garcia

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