Firefighters battle a blaze that gutted a house in Centereach...

Firefighters battle a blaze that gutted a house in Centereach on Friday night, Nov. 11. 2016. Credit: Christopher Sabella

Suffolk police officers used a hand-to-hand operation to rescue a Centereach couple and their two young sons from their burning home just before flames destroyed the house and damaged two nearby properties Friday night, authorities said.

The father was on the sloped roof of the garage trying to get his boys and their mother out through a second-floor window when three officers arrived, Suffolk County police said.

“The smoke was pouring out above them, out the window,” one rescuer, Sixth Precinct Officer Donny Calcagno, said early Saturday morning after the fire was put out.

The family of four was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for smoke inhalation and other non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The father suffered minor burns, authorities said, and a firefighter suffered an ankle injury.

The blaze broke out in the house on Minto Court at 10:50 p.m. At a home across the street, Caleigh Anson, 12, alerted her father, James Anson, an off-duty Seventh Precinct officer, police said.

While she called 911, Anson grabbed his ladder and propped it against the garage of the burning house, where homeowners Jason and April Noon screamed for help, police said. The front of the house was already engulfed in flames, police said.

Calcagno and his partner William Cope, gang unit officers, were on patrol two blocks away when the fire call came over the police radio.

“We actually smelled it before the call came,” Calcagno said.

When Calcagno got there, he saw flames whipped high and in various directions by strong winds. Debris and embers blew along the street, setting trees on fire. Flames eventually jumped to a house on Rock Island Road, Suffolk fire communications officials said.

The boys, ages 5 and 7, and their mother were still inside the house at the window as the father, his face black with soot, struggled against the intense heat up on the roof, Calcagno said.

Anson, at the top of the ladder, and Calcagno and Cope, at the bottom, shouted repeatedly for the family to come down and asked, “Anybody else inside?”

The mother handed each boy out the window to the father, who helped each son down the sloped roof to Anson, who then dropped the boys into the arms of the Sixth Precinct officers, Calcagno said.

April Noon climbed out the window but then reached back into the house, screaming frantically and trying to pull something out with her, Calcagno recounted. That was when her sons, quiet up until then, started sobbing, he said.

“That was the scariest part,” he said. “We thought maybe there was another child, maybe tenants downstairs. . . . at that point there was no way for us to get to them.”

It turned out the mother was upset about the family’s two dogs.

More than a half-hour after firefighters arrived, they found one of the dogs, a small brown one that had been hiding and was soaked by water, Calcagno said.

The other dog died in the fire, police said.

Anson escorted the mother down the ladder and the father made it down on his own, police said. April Noon’s father, who was visiting, was on the first floor when the fire broke out and got out on his own, Calcagno said.

The fire was under control at 12:39 a.m., Suffolk fire officials said. Two neighboring houses were damaged, police said.

Arson squad detectives and the Brookhaven Town Fire Marshal’s Office are still investigating the cause.

A spokeswoman for the Noons said Saturday the family did not want to talk about the fire.

Calcagno singles out Anson for his quick thinking with the ladder.

“That was huge,” Calcagno said. “Without that, we would have had to try to get the kids to jump or maybe find another way to get up there if we couldn’t get the kids out of the window.

“It was a total team effort.”

With Deon J. Hampton

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