Richard Mosback, of Sayville, rescued a teenager who was trapped in a house fire Wednesday. Credit: Newsday

A Sayville man helped rescue a teenager who was trapped in a house fire Wednesday afternoon that killed the family's dog.

Richard Mosback, 37, happened to be looking out his window just before 2 p.m., when he saw smoke coming from a house down the block.

“I said, 'Oh, my God, there's a house on fire,' ” he recalled.

Mosback ran down the street in the pouring rain and saw a car in the driveway and the home's front door open. He opened the glass storm door and was overcome with smoke.

“The smoke was overwhelming. I called for anyone inside. I know they have a dog too,” Mosback said.

Upstairs, AJ Spitzfaden, 18, a West Sayville volunteer firefighter, was trapped in his bedroom. At first he thought the loud popping and the flash in his room was lightning, but then he opened his door to find his hallway filled with black smoke.

“I knew once I saw the smoke was too dense to get out that way, I was hanging out my window to give myself a second to think,” he said. “Thank God my neighbor was there.”

Mosback ran back outside, banged on the door of an Alure Home Improvement van and told a contractor to call 911. He looked back and saw Spitzfaden hanging out of the front window on the second floor of the burning home.

Mosback ran back to his house to get a ladder and then worked with the contractor to hoist the ladder to the teen's window.

“He told me I’ve got to get out,” Spitzfaden said. “I swung myself down the ladder and then I watched my house burn.”

He was soon met by Suffolk County police and EMTs, who cleared him and reunited him with his parents, Andrew and Heather Spitzfaden, who rushed home after a friend in the fire department told Andrew their house was on fire.

Mosback went to the hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

Suffolk County Police Arson Squad detectives are investigating the cause of the fire with the Islip Town Fire Marshal. The fire was not believed to be suspicious or criminal in nature, police said.

The family also lost an 8-year-old mixed dog in the fire. They rescued her as a puppy from the Islip Town Animal Shelter and named her Half-Pint, after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s character in “Little House on the Prairie.”

“I lost my dog,” Andrew Spitzfaden said Thursday, his voice quivering. “She was just a rescue pound pup.”

The Spitzfadens had raised their two sons, AJ and Joaquin, 17, in the home after Andrew had grown up in the house, his mother, Patricia Spitzfaden, of Connecticut, said.

She said she lived in that house for about 27 years and raised two sons there, but it was also where her husband died at 45 years old of a heart attack.

“I feel God is looking out for my family and the guardian angels were there,” she said.

The family spent Wednesday night in a hotel and was working with their insurance company to try to collect their losses. As soon as word of the fire spread, the community rallied to support the family, including from Andrew Spitzfaden’s union, Local No. 3 IBEW, and the restaurant where Heather worked as a server.

Stephen Rizzo, the owner of Off The Block Kitchen and Meats in Sayville, helped raise more than $50,000 for the family by Thursday afternoon.

“They are very hardworking individuals who have been living in Sayville for a very long time,” Rizzo said. “It hits very close to home. It shows how important their family is to this community. We don’t leave anybody behind in Sayville.”

Andrew and AJ Spitzfaden got a chance to meet Mosback on Thursday.

“I gave him a big hug and thanked him for saving my son’s life,” Andrew Spitzfaden said. “He’s a hero.”

Richard Mosback helped rescue a Sayville teen from his burning...

Richard Mosback helped rescue a Sayville teen from his burning home in Sayville Wednesday. Credit: Mosback family

Mosback, who has lived on the street for about eight years, said he didn't know the family, except for seeing them on their block.

“It was very lucky I looked out the window and saw it and was able to get him out safely,” Mosback said. “I’m just happy I was able to help them out. If anyone else was in the same position, they'd have done the same thing.”

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