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North Amityville fire kills man, dog, officials say

One person was killed Wednesday morning, Jan. 4, 2016, in a fire and explosion at a North Amityville house, a spokesman for Suffolk County Fire Rescue Communications said. A spokeswoman for the Suffolk County police said a 911 call reporting the fire at the Jefferson Avenue home was received at 10:39 a.m. Credit: News 12 Long Island

A man was killed Wednesday in a fire at a North Amityville house and two tenants escaped with minor injuries, police and fire officials said.

The victim, who did not live at the house, was found on the first floor and pronounced dead at the scene, while two residents, both women, were taken to a hospital, Suffolk County police said. A dog also died in the fire, police said.

Homicide and arson detectives were investigating the cause of the blaze.

Police on Thursday identified the victim as Hector Rodriguez, 45, of Hollis, Queens,

The fire appeared to have started in the apartment where Maria Alvarenga, 50, and three of her five children lived, but it was a visitor, her friend Hector, who died in the blaze, the woman’s family said.

One of Alvarenga’s daughters said they are now all squeezed into her Brentwood apartment.

“They have nothing, except the clothes they’re wearing now,” said Victoria Mejia, 20.

It took about 50 firefighters from five departments to put out the blaze after a 911 caller reported it about 10:40 a.m., authorities said.

Smoke and fire were already visible when Craig Rhoridan, third assistant chief of the North Amityville Fire Department, arrived at the Jefferson Avenue house before other first responders, said Fire Chief Aaron Collins, who was seconds behind.

One woman was still inside, in the hallway screaming to someone in the house, Collins said: “She was in the dark, black smoke, saying, ‘Come out.’ He [Rhoridan] grabbed her and pulled her outside.”

Alvarenga’s sister, Olga Robertson of Freeport, said she rushed to the scene after her sister called her with the news. She said her niece, Cindy, Alvarenga’s adult daughter, was awakened by the fire and rushed to her mother’s bedroom, where Rodriguez was sleeping.

The daughter screamed at the man to get out, but he did not move, Robertson said. “He was like sitting on the bed. He was engulfed in flames.”

Cindy Alvarenga called her mother, who rushed over from her job at a McDonald’s down the road, one of her two jobs, Robertson said.

But it was too late to get inside and save her friend, whom she had met about 10 years ago while working a previous job, relatives said.

“She lost everything,” said Robertson, who started a GoFundMe account for the victim’s funeral and her sister’s family.

The home is owned by Blanca Ramirez, whose husband, Dionel Ramirez, was struck and killed with his own car as it was being stolen from a 7-Eleven parking lot in November 2014.

At the time, Ramirez, 69, of North Amityville, was picking up baked goods to donate to local homeless people, which he did several times a week, family and 7-Eleven officials said.

A Suffolk County Fire Rescue spokesman said the fire was brought under control at 11:47 a.m. Four other departments — Amityville Village, Copiague, North Lindenhurst and East Farmingdale — responded, along with the Wyandanch-Wheatley Heights Ambulance Company, police said.

With Lisa Irizarry and Rachel Uda

CORRECTION: Fire Chief Aaron Collins was misidentified in previous versions of this story.


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