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Driver pleads not guilty in crash that burned home

Anthony Capuano, 35, of Selden, was charged with

Anthony Capuano, 35, of Selden, was charged with reckless endangerment and driving while ability impaired by drugs after he crashed his truck into a Selden house, setting the house on fire as a mother and her two young children were upstairs, authorities said. (March 12, 2013) Credit: SCPD

A Selden man who authorities said was impaired by drugs when he crashed his pickup truck into the home of a volunteer firefighter, sparking a blaze that engulfed the house, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in First District Court in Central Islip.

Charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and driving while ability impaired by drugs, Anthony Capuano, 35, entered the not guilty plea through his attorney at his morning arraignment.

Judge Paul Hensley set bail at $20,000 cash or $100,000 bond.

Suffolk County police and other law enforcement officials said Capuano lost control of his pickup truck Tuesday evening about 7:15, crashing into the occupied home on Choate Avenue in Selden. The force of the crash ruptured gas, electrical and water lines, authorities said, sparking a fire.

The home belongs to Selden volunteer firefighter Michael Cosgrove, who was at a training class at the firehouse at the time. His family, including two children, ages 7 and 9, was able to flee the burning home, police said. They were not injured.

Authorities said Cosgrove responded to the fire, but did not know it was his own home because the initial address was wrong. Selden Fire Chief Joseph Leavens said Cosgrove only learned it was his house when he arrived.

The fire destroyed much of the house before it was brought under control. Firefighters had to allow a "controlled burn" until National Grid workers turned off the gas, Leavens said. Fully extinguishing the gas-fed fire would have let the gas escape, endangering the neighborhood, the chief said.

With John Valenti

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