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Holbrook condo residents displaced by fire, Suffolk cops say

Fifteen residents of a Holbrook condo complex were displaced early Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016 when the building caught fire. Residents were displaced from two apartments that were damaged in the fire and the occupants of another six units were also forced to leave, police said. (Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely; Stringer News Service)

Fifteen residents of a Holbrook condo complex — six of them children — were displaced by a fire the day before Christmas, authorities said.

Suffolk County police said a 911 caller reported the fire at 3:50 a.m. Saturday at Woodgate Village Condominium on Springmeadow Drive.

Residents were displaced from two condos that were damaged in the fire. Another six units in the building had smoke damage that rendered them inhabitable, police said.

The blaze forced families to alter holiday plans, but some said they were focusing on how no one was injured and how the fire could have been more destructive.

Paul and Danielle Baker, who have three children, had been looking forward to hosting a Christmas Eve-Hanukkah celebration.

But on Saturday, after their unit suffered smoke damage, they were planning instead to head to Danielle Baker’s parents’ house in Center Moriches.

“We have little kids, so it’s about keeping this as happy as we can for them and remind them of what’s really important at Christmastime,” said Baker, 43. She is Catholic; her husband is Jewish.

Paul Baker, also 43, praised Bayport firefighters who carried out their holiday gifts and even loaded them into the family’s car.

“In two minutes, they had everything we need to keep Christmas and Hannukah intact for our kids,” he said.

On the opposite side of the eight-unit building, Nancy DeDonato, 60, was retrieving clothes and other necessities as she prepared to spend the night with a family member.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” she said.

Christmas Eve dinner would be, as planned, at her sister’s house. DeDonato brought out several gifts of clothing but wasn’t sure whether they’re salvageable.

“I’m hoping they can wash it out,” she said Saturday of the smell of smoke. “They might be in the garbage tomorrow.”

Donna Miller, 55, and Robert Beynon, 58, might spend the night at a hotel rather than have their daughter and her boyfriend over for Christmas Eve dinner, as they had planned.

But they’re so exhausted, they said, all they want to do is sleep. They’ll spend Sunday at her sister’s, instead of hosting a friend and her daughter.

The couple said the smoke damage won’t put a damper on their holiday.

“I’m grateful,” Miller said. “I’m just glad we didn’t lose everything.”

“And nobody was hurt,” Beynon said.

Multiple fire departments responded and extinguished the fire, authorities said.

Eight families were displaced and assisted by the Red Cross, said Red Cross volunteer spokeswoman Jessica Kirk. The group includes six children.

The Red Cross early Saturday provided housing for three or four of the families, said Craig Cooper, spokesman for the American Red Cross on Long Island. A poodle named Cupcake also was housed, he said.

“It’s heartbreaking any day,” Cooper said of the fire and displacement. “It’s even more frustrating when it’s the day before Christmas.”

The charity “is prepared to provide overnight support again if needed,” he said.

All eight families were given debit cards to buy clothing and other necessities, he said.

Police said Saturday afternoon the cause of the fire is under investigation. Authorities do not believe it was criminal in nature.

A police spokesman said another fire was reported in the building at 3:45 p.m. Friday after a resident reported the smell of smoke. The fire was inside the area between the first and second floor of a unit and was extinguished, the spokesman said. He did not know if the inhabitants of that unit were displaced, but he said only one unit was affected by the fire.

Residents of other units said it appeared that the early-morning Saturday fire was in the same area of the building as the Friday afternoon fire.

Islip Town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said the fire marshal’s office is investigating both fires, including whether they are related.

Complex management did not return a call seeking comment.


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