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Boy, grandfather rescued from burning Uniondale home

Uniondale resident Rohan Wray, left, said he was

Uniondale resident Rohan Wray, left, said he was driving past the Southern Parkway house in Uniondale when he noticed smoke coming from the second floor. (Jan. 4, 2010) Credit: James A. Escher (left); Bill Bennett

A cleaning company owner who saw a burning house in Uniondale on his way to work Monday morning ran in, rescuing a 4-year-old boy and his grandfather before firefighters arrived.

Rohan Wray said he was driving past the Southern Parkway house about 10 a.m. when he noticed smoke coming from the second floor.

>> PHOTOS: Click here to see photos of this blaze and other recent LI fires

"I kicked the door, then I kicked the window," Wray, 40, of Uniondale, said Monday night.

He could see through the window that there was a little boy inside. "I begged him to open the door," Wray said. The boy did and ran back inside. "I grabbed him."

Wray, who owns Mr. Clean Jamaica, took the boy to his work truck and went back into the burning house. "There was an old man upstairs and he told me he couldn't see," Wray said. "The fire was real, real heavy. . . . The window in the front exploded. There were flames all over."

The elderly man didn't speak English and wasn't able to tell Wray whether there were more people inside, he said. So Wray ran back in again, screaming for anyone else inside. While he was inside, he grabbed sheets from the living room to wrap around the two to keep them warm.

Minutes later, fire trucks arrived and seven departments responded. He watched as it took about a half-hour to put out the blaze.

Uniondale fire chief Anthony Lebron said the fire grew rapidly. "That actually hindered us trying to get water onto the fire because it was growing so fast," he said.

Wray said only the two he rescued were home at the time of the blaze and they did not go to the hospital. "I'm not the hero," he said. "If I was in a jam, somebody would do something for me, too."

Wray stayed at the scene until about 2 p.m., losing out on a day's business of cleaning houses and offices. "But that's nothing," he said. "Lives were saved."

The boy, his twin sisters, 8, mother, father and grandfather, who is visually impaired, were displaced, said Sam Kille, spokesman for the Nassau chapter of the American Red Cross.

Because the fire destroyed the home, the Red Cross provided the family with money for items such as clothing and shoes, Kille said. The family was able to secure housing through their insurance company, he said.

Kille said fire officials said the fire may have been caused by an overloaded surge protector and did not appear to be suspicious. Fire officials could not be reached Monday. Nassau police said there were no injuries.

"It's been bitterly cold outside," Kille noted, warning families to take care using electrical items such as space heaters.

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