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Massapequa Park residents left homeless after fast-moving fire guts house, kills pets, officials say

Two firefighters were injured and three pets died

Two firefighters were injured and three pets died in a fast-moving fire that gutted a home on Balchen Street in Massapequa Park on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, fire officials said. Three people inside the home were able to escape. Photo Credit: Paul Mazza

Three people were left homeless and three pets perished in a fast-moving house fire Friday night in Massapequa Park, fire officials said.

The South Farmingdale Fire Department received a 911 call at 9:56 p.m. Friday reporting a blaze on Balchen Street.

A pair of passersby -- a man and a woman -- who were driving on Linden Street, which runs parallel to and is one block over from Balchen, saw the flames, banged on the homeowners' door and called 911, fire Chief Jim Martin said.

The roof of the home was almost completely burned through and the house is uninhabitable, he said.

"The homeowners got out," Martin said. "They're homeless. They lost the house. It's a loss."

Inside the home at the time were a woman and her young son, and a tenant, Martin said, who told the passersby that they were unaware the house was on fire.

Their identities were not released. Neither the homeowner nor the tenant could be reached Saturday.

"They were trying to get the animals out," Martin said. "But they couldn't. The house was already fully involved before we even got there. It was a fast-moving fire. They lost some animals -- one cat and two dogs."

Martin said he believes the fire started in the rear of the home and was accelerated by a propane tank for a grill on the deck of the home.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but it appears to be accidental, he said. The Nassau County fire marshal is investigating.

Steve Williams, 62, said he and his wife live across the street, two houses down from the fire scene.

"It was a devastating blaze, total destruction," Williams said. "We could see the flames coming up through the roof."

It took firefighters more than an hour to get the fire under control, Martin said.

One firefighter was treated for exhaustion at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow; another sustained a cut to his hand and was treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage.

In addition to the South Farmingdale Fire Department, firefighters responded from several other departments, including Massapequa, North Massapequa, East Farmingdale, Bethpage and Plainview, Martin said.

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