Police officers had to rescue a woman from the second-floor bedroom of a burning house in Westbury after she returned upstairs to retrieve a wallet and became trapped, authorities said Tuesday.
The blaze Monday was caused by careless disposal of a cigarette, according to the Nassau County fire marshal's office. Vincent McManus of the fire marshal's office said the fire began when a resident in the home attempted to extinguish a cigarette by putting the napkin-wrapped butt in a trash bin.
It was the second fire in a little over a year at the home to have been caused by smoking and that sent the woman to the hospital, McManus said.
In the latest fire, a 911 call reported the fire on Rugby Road about 4:50 p.m. The homeowner told Nassau County Police officers who went to the home on a street near Jericho Turnpike that he couldn't reach his wife because of the heat and flames.
"She said, 'Help! I'm trapped!' . . . 'I'm gonna die! I'm gonna die!' " the husband, Bryan Berman, 53, said of his wife of 20 years, Lesley, 56. "Just then the . . . officers came up and I said, 'Please help me! My wife's trapped upstairs!' "
Berman, who declined to comment on the cause of the fire, had tried to rescue his wife himself, but was buffeted by the raging fire and thick smoke, he recalled in an interview Tuesday outside the damaged home.
"No masks, no nothing. They went up and they basically dragged her down and they saved her life," Berman said.
Rescuers administered oxygen. Authorities said the woman received burns on her arms and hands, and was in stable condition. Berman said his wife was in Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.
The four police officers - Charles Javorosky, Mark Iovino, Brian McQuade and Daniel Doerrie - who rescued the woman were themselves hospitalized for smoke inhalation and released later.
Bryan Berman said he hoped "these gentlemen get proper recognition for their heroic acts."
Asked what he would say to each of the officers, Berman said: "I thank you for being a hero and saving my wife's life. . . . I'm all cried out already."