A fire Monday night gutted the Deer Park home of a family on hard times.
Anna Stoloff said she was returning to her home of 35 years and about to open the front door when she saw flames in the living room, just as her husband dashed out and her granddaughter escaped out the back with their two dogs.
“I’ve been crying most of the night,” said Stoloff, 66. “I saw my whole life go in front of me. Everything that I had was in that house.
“The house burned, but that was not what I was looking at. I was looking at what transpired inside the house all those years,” she recalled.
Firefighters from four departments put out the West Fourth Street blaze, which started about 5:30 p.m. and may have been an electrical fire, according to Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services.
Deer Park Fire Chief Anthony Biolsi said firefighters arrived to an inferno at the two-story house, now uninhabitable: “The fire just licked up the front of the house.”
The blaze caused extensive damage to the house where the Stoloffs live with their daughter and her three children. Stoloff said her daughter was forced to move in and she herself will have to look for another job because her employer, Dowling College, is shutting down.
Stoloff said many of the family’s valued memories were in the front of the home, in the den or the bedrooms — photographs of her daughter as a baby and her grandchildren, her husband’s comic books, autographs from stars in Hollywood’s early years and her holiday Barbie dolls, collected over the decades.
Biolsi said his department’s firefighters would like to help the family, in effect “adopting” them to help them through the tragedy.
The fire temporarily split the family — Stoloff’s daughter and grandchildren are at a relative’s home, the dogs at her daughter’s boyfriend’s home, and Stoloff and her husband to a hotel.
But the family matriarch said she is glad of one thing: “Everybody got out in time. . . . There are far worse things that happen to people in life. I just feel that every day is a new day. My family’s safe. That’s all that’s important.”