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Smoking likely cause of Hicksville house fire that killed woman, official says

Police at the scene of a Hicksville house

Police at the scene of a Hicksville house fire in which a woman died Thursday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Smoking may have caused a fire that killed a Hicksville woman Thursday, a fire official said Friday.

Firefighters pulled the woman out of the second floor of her cluttered, burning home, authorities said Thursday.

She had been quickly found in the bathroom of her Ketcham Avenue house after neighbors told firefighters there was someone inside, but efforts to revive her at the scene proved futile, said Hicksville Fire Chief Bob Chiz.

The woman was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where she was declared dead, said Michael Uttaro, the Nassau County assistant chief fire marshal. Nassau police, who did not identify the victim, said she was 49.

Uttaro said the medical examiner's office would determine cause of death. The county fire marshal's office and police arson detectives were looking into the cause of the fire but had not found any evidence of foul play.

About 60 firefighters from Hicksville, Syosset, Plainview and Bethpage arrived after neighbors alerted authorities about 12:50 p.m., officials said. 

"There was smoke coming out of the second-floor window," Chiz said. "There was no visible fire out the windows at that time."

Firefighters stretched a hose line into the house from the front door but had to deal with trash, bottles and items in the way, including on the staircase, Chiz said. 

"The clutter hampered our advancing of the line," he said. "Once we were able to get up to the second floor, there was still extreme clutter there but they were able to knock the fire down . . . We declared the fire under control in about half an hour, but we were there an extended period of time doing overhaul because of the extreme clutter conditions." 

Uttaro lauded firefighters' efforts because the damage was largely confined to the rear of the second floor, where the fire appeared to have started.

It has been busy for the Hicksville fire department in the past week or so. Francesca's Bakery burned down Sunday night in the strip mall that had housed the bakery for 30 years despite the overnight efforts of about 100 firefighters from nine departments.

With Chau Lam

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