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North Massapequa house fire leaves 1 dead, say cops

A midmorning fire Thursday, July 21, 2016, in

A midmorning fire Thursday, July 21, 2016, in North Massapequa left one dead, and a nearby collision involving a police car seriously injured one civilian, Nassau County police said. Credit: Jim Staubitzer

A North Massapequa house fire killed a man Thursday morning and a police SUV on the way to help collided with a sedan, injuring two officers and two others, including a pedestrian, authorities said.

Nassau County police said a 79-year-old resident of the North Suffolk Avenue home who used a wheelchair died in the fire, which was reported at 9:21 a.m.

The police sport utility vehicle responding to the fire was less than a mile away when it collided about 9:27 a.m. with a 2015 Toyota Camry at Broadway and New York Avenue in Massapequa.

The impact sent the Camry onto a sidewalk where it hit a pedestrian and plowed into J1 Hair Studio, police said. Police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia said that the pedestrian “went about 30 feet and landed on a parked car.”

The pedestrian, identified only as a man, was hospitalized with “very serious” injuries and is in critical condition, police said. The nature of those injuries was unknown.

Debbie Hofmann, of Lindenhurst, was working in a nearby doctor’s office with three other people, when the sound of the crash and screaming drew her outside, she said.

“It was loud,” Hofmann said. “It was a very loud noise. Big impact.”

The two officers who were in the police vehicle were taken to the hospital and are in stable condition, Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said. The Camry driver, a 63-year-old woman, also was hospitalized in stable condition.

The police unit, traveling north on Broadway with lights and sirens on, had the right of way, LeBrun said. The driver of the Toyota, who police did not identify, had stopped at a stop sign before pulling into the intersection, he said.

LeBrun called the accident scene “complex.”

“Right now we just want to make sure everybody is taken care of and gets healthy,” LeBrun said.

Officials said firefighters from nine departments — North Massapequa, Massapequa, Seaford, Wantagh, South Farmingdale, Farmingdale, Bethpage, Levittown and North Bellmore — responded to the fire scene.

Nassau Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said first responders arrived to find “heavy fire on the first floor” of the Cape Cod-style home and said “despite valiant efforts” they were turned back, leaving them unable to save the victim.

Rosalie and Victor Cusumano, who have lived on the block for 46 years and knew the burned house’s owners, were at home when the fire happened.

Rosalie, who was taking out the trash at the time, said the flames from the burning home were so intense that firefighters “couldn’t get into the front door.”

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” she said.

The identity of the fire victim has not been released, pending notification of next of kin. Uttaro said the victim was alone in the home, which he said was heavily damaged.

The blaze was extinguished by 10:30 a.m., Uttaro said. No firefighters were injured.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze.

With Nicole Fuller

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, the crash involving the police SUV was mischaracterized in a previous version of this story.


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