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Manhasset man killed, woman injured in house fire

Firefighters wait for orders at the front entrance

Firefighters wait for orders at the front entrance of a Grandview Avenue house in Manhasset, where a fire killed a man, 63, Sunday night. (March 7, 2010) Photo Credit: Fred Kopf

A 63-year-old man who friends said was a Vietnam veteran was killed when a late-night fire roared through a home in Manhasset Sunday.

Nassau County police said the man died as a result of the fire on Grandview Avenue, while a 69-year-old woman was injured and taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Investigators believe the fire was caused by "careless disposal of smoking materials."

A neighbor, Bobby Vaughn, said the victim used a cane to get around, adding: "He's a good guy. He was a lovely person."

Homeowner Esther Beck said she had known the victim for "forty-some years" and said of him: "He's like my brother."

Officials are not identifying him yet because next of kin has not been notified of his death. The fire was reported at 10:45 p.m., police said, after the residents smelled smoke coming from a basement apartment area in the home. A resident, who was not identified by police, told police he heard the victim "yelling for help" - but was unable to reach the downstairs area "due to the thick smoke."

The resident then evacuated his own family from the home and called 911, police said.

Officials said four people suffered minor injuries. A dog also died in the blaze. The 69-year-old woman, who was not identified, suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at a local hospital. The three others were firefighters from the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department who suffered heat exhaustion, according to Chief Michael Uttaro. About 120 firefighters were on the scene and Uttaro said it took about 1 1/2 hours to knock down the fire, which he said completely destroyed the home. The house had been under renovation, Uttaro said.

Uttaro said firefighters were unable to gain access to the home due to the smoke and flames. "We made several rescue attempts," he said, adding: "But it was pretty futile."

He said the first volunteer arrived on the scene four minutes after the call was placed - but found the house already "fully engulfed," leading investigators to say there may have been a delay placing the call.

Police said fire marshals and Arson-Bomb Squad investigators ruled the fire accidental.

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