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Farmingville house with illegal rooms condemned after fire, official says

Firefighters at the scene of a house fire

Firefighters at the scene of a house fire late Thursday night in Farmingville. Credit: Christopher Sabella

A Farmingville house with illegal garage and basement bedrooms caught fire Thursday night after something ignited outside garbage cans, sending one of 10 occupants to Stony Brook University Hospital for smoke inhalation, a Brookhaven Town spokesman said.

What caused the four-bedroom, one-bathroom house to erupt in flames shortly after 11 p.m. on Independence Day has yet to be determined, officials said.

"The fire started at the exterior front corner of the house where garbage pails were stored," said spokesman Kevin Molloy by telephone Friday.

"Something landed in this area and ignited the combustibles; the fire traveled up the siding of the house into the attic," he said.

Fire officials routinely caution people about the hazards of setting off private fireworks to celebrate July Fourth.

The Horseblock Road home is owned by Gilberto Zuniga Ruiz, who could not be immediately reached for comment.

Hoping to make dwellings safer, Brookhaven in January offered amnesty to homeowners who had accessory apartments, after finding more than 2,578 such apartments in homes with expired permits.

Brookhaven officials said the amnesty program was to be followed by a crackdown, citing the recent death of a Farmingville man in an illegal basement apartment.

Damaged by smoke in the July Fourth fire, the Horseblock Road house has been condemned as an "unsafe structure," which means no one is allowed to enter, Molloy explained. The electrical meter was removed by PSEG, he said.

"The fire marshal found fire damage was contained in the garage area bedrooms, but the rest of the house sustained smoke damage," he said.

Both the building and law departments investigated, he said, as no permits had been granted for the extra bedrooms and living spaces.

"There is no rental permit for the house; no accessory apartment permit," he said. "And the house is listed in town records as a single family dwelling."

Molloy said he did not yet know what violations the owner might be charged with.

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