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Pickup crashes into Selden house, starts fire

The driver of a pickup truck slammed into

The driver of a pickup truck slammed into a home on Choate Avenue in Selden, which caused the house to catch fire, authorities said. (March 12, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

A pickup truck crashed into a Selden house Tuesday night, setting the house on fire as a mother and her two young children were upstairs, authorities said.

The children, ages 7 and 9, ran with their mother out the front door after the vehicle careened into the side of the home on Choate Avenue at about 7:15 p.m., rupturing gas, electrical and water lines, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

"The fire went inside very quick, because a gas-fed fire is like a blowtorch, pushing into the house," said Selden fire Chief Joseph Leavens.

The driver, Anthony Capuano, 35, of Selden, was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and driving while ability impaired by drugs, police said. Capuano is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip.

The stricken home is Selden volunteer firefighter Michael Cosgrove's. He was at a training class at the firehouse, and left to respond to the emergency, but did not know it was his own house because the initial address was wrong, Leavens said.

When fire trucks finally pulled up to his house, Cosgrove rushed out for news of his family and then helped put out the fire, Leavens said.

"He seemed more angry than distraught," Leavens said.

Firefighters put out much of the flames eating into both floors of the house but had to let the fire continue in a "controlled burn" around the truck and side of the house as they waited for National Grid workers to turn off the gas, Leavens said. Fully extinguishing a gas-fed fire would have let the gas escape, endangering the neighborhood, he said.

The fire was under control shortly after 8 p.m., Leavens said.

National Grid workers were at the scene to cut off the gas and cap the pipe, a job expected to take hours as authorities examined the scene and pulled out the pickup, company spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said. LIPA and water crews also responded.

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