A Baldwin man was killed early Sunday when the car he was driving struck a utility pole and a building, starting a fire that engulfed the car and spread to the building, authorities said.
Nassau County police said the victim, Gregory Balmir, 42, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:01 a.m. crash, at Grand Avenue near Kings Parkway in Baldwin.
According to detectives, Balmir was driving a 1996 Toyota Camry southbound on Grand Avenue. The vehicle crossed over two lanes of traffic at the corner of Woodside Avenue and struck a utility pole in front of 1575A Grand Ave. The vehicle caught fire and continued to travel across Kings Parkway, hitting an unoccupied building at 1577 Grand Ave., police said.
Baldwin Fire Chief Karen Bendel said, "When we arrived, the car was on fire and up against the building. The car landed on the side of the building near a . . . [rear side] door." She added the impact apparently opened that door, allowing the flames to get in.
"The boxes were neatly stacked but we could walk around -- it wasn't cluttered." Bendel said "We were concerned because there was flammable product in there."
A man who identified himself as the owner of the building that was struck, who asked not to be named, said it is one of about eight attached structures along Grand Avenue that are part of Johnstone Supply, where heating, ventilation, refrigeration and air conditioning parts are sold.
He said the damaged structure is used as a warehouse and that the other Johnstone properties were damaged only in the firefighting process. By Monday the entire business was expected to be "fully functioning" though some doors would have to be replaced. he said. "Nothing is damaged beyond usage."
The investigation is ongoing. Detectives request anyone with information regarding this crash to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.