About a dozen people were left homeless following an early morning fire Sunday at a house in Bay Shore, a fire official said.
Fire Chief Edward Kunz said the blaze, in which no one was injured, started about 2:10 a.m. at a two-story wood frame home on North Penataquit Avenue, and raced from the basement of the house to the first floor.
“Upon my arrival there was visible smoke and shortly afterwards, the first floor was involved [in fire],” Kunz said. “It appears to have started in the basement.”
Kunz said the house was being used as a multifamily dwelling and that there were three apartments in the basement. He said “from 10 to 12” people lived in the house and that they escaped safely before firefighters arrived.
The blaze caused extensive damage to the basement and first floor, and extensive heat and water damage to the second floor, Kunz said. He added that it took about an hour to bring the fire under control.
Kunz said the cause of the blaze is being investigated by the Town of Islip fire marshal’s office and county arson officials. The fire marshal issued a notice of violation, giving the property’s owner 30 days to secure the house, town officials said Sunday.
Brentwood firefighters helped battle the blaze, Kunz said, and the American Red Cross was finding temporary housing for the residents displaced by the fire.
Family members gathered outside the small, yellow home on Sunday afternoon to help resident Louis Gonzales, 78, sort through what was left of his possessions.
“The marshal told me it was an accident,” Gonzales said. “There was a lot of smoke, a lot of heat. By the time the guy called me [to alert me to the fire], it was too late. . . . I lost everything.”
Gonzales said he has rented the home, where he lived with his family, for 27 years. The fire took almost everything he owns, though his daughter, Jeanie Gonzales, said it is the loss of the photographs of his dead mother and his children that he mourns the most.
“This is shocking,” Jeanie Gonzales said. “It was beautiful inside [before the fire].”
The Red Cross provided the family with an emergency debit card, but Louis Gonzales said he was still figuring out where the family would stay for the night.
“Fortunately everyone is OK,” Jeanie Gonzales said.
A Red Cross spokesman said the organization helped 10 residents from six families affected by the fire, and that caseworkers would stay in touch with the families in the coming days.