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Freeport man helps save 2 disabled women in house fire

Oil technician Roger Hope noticed smoke coming from

Oil technician Roger Hope noticed smoke coming from a home on Hicksville Road in North Massapequa on Saturday. (Jan. 31, 2010) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

When Roger Hope saw the smoke coming out of a North Massapequa house, his first thought was of the devastating fire that destroyed his own house 12 years ago, nearly taking the life of his 7-year-old son.

"The house will burn but if people inside are lost, you can't replace that," Hope, 49, an oil service technician from Freeport, said Sunday.

So Hope sprang into action Saturday, and police credit him with helping a Nassau police officer carry out two bedridden women living in the basement.

PHOTOS: Click here to see photos from other recent LI fires

Hope was making a heating oil service call near the Hicksville Road house when he saw smoke coming out of the roof, and then people running out of the home without coats in the frigid weather.

Around 9:22 a.m., police responded to a 911 call of a fire there, Nassau Lt. John O'Donnell said.

Two residents had escaped and told Hope and responding police officer James Zambik two women in hospital beds who couldn't walk were in the basement, O'Donnell and Hope said.

The two men went into the smoky basement through a side door and carried out Sarah Marian, 73, and Joann Balsamo, 50.

"The smoke was coming down, but it wasn't that intense yet," Hope said of the scene in the basement. "They asked what was going on and I said there was a fire."

Zambik was not available for comment yesterday.

Peter Balsamo, who said Marian is his mother and Joann Balsamo his sister, said the women, who were not injured, are both disabled. As the house was gutted, they are staying temporarily at a medical center in Massapequa.

"They're trying to get residency somewhere. They need 24-hour nurses," said Balsamo, 51, of Farmingdale.

Property records show Marian Balsamo owns the house. The identity of the other residents was unclear last night.

The North Massapequa Fire Department put out the fire, which they said started in the kitchen and was not suspicious.

Hope said he went back to work after the rescue. He understood the fear that the house's occupants might have felt.

"Twelve years ago in Hempstead, my house caught on fire. We had almost lost my son - he was 7 at the time. The fire department got him. I was frantic about it, so I know how it is," Hope said. "I had a flashback to that."

PHOTOS: Click here to see photos from other recent LI fires

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