About seven cats perished Tuesday night in a Great Neck fire that started in the dining room of a century-old home, authorities said.
The homeowner was out of state on vacation and appeared to have gotten a text about 6:30 p.m. from her alarm company alerting her to the fire at the Colonial home on Warwick Road, said Chief Joshua Charry of the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company.
"When we first got there, there was smoke coming from the vents up in the attic, and there was smoke coming out of the eaves in the front," Charry said.
Some neighbors were not sure if the homeowner was inside or on vacation, the fire chief said, so he and Second Asst. Chief Scott McDonald rushed in to search for her.
They saw flames in the dining room, Charry said, and halfway through the search, they got word that the homeowner was on vacation.
"Between the two of us and our fire extinguishers, we were able to control the vast majority of the easily visible fire," Charry said.
The owner had about 15 cats and about half were found dead of smoke inhalation, while several others ran out of the house and were rescued by neighbors, the fire official said.
"A couple of the cats that we brought outside had not completely succumbed yet," Charry said, "and we were able to revive them. That made everybody feel good."
The Nassau County fire marshal's office said the blaze was accidental, caused by an electrical problem. About 50 firefighters and three other departments - Great Neck Alert Fire Company, Port Washington and Manhasset-Lakeville - responded to the fire, Charry said.
The three-story house has a historical plaque due to its age and was the home of John L. Miller, who was hired in the early 1940s as the superintendent of the Great Neck school district, where a high school bears his name. Charry said the current resident is Miller's daughter.