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Two police officers save man, 82, and teen from North Amityville fire, cops say

The North Amityville Fire Company, and a total

The North Amityville Fire Company, and a total of 50 firefighters from five departments, respond to a fire on Miller Avenue in Amityville at about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. Suffolk County police on patrol came upon the fire and rescued an 82-year-old man and his teen grandson from the home. Credit: Paul Mazza

Two Suffolk County police officers saved an 82-year-old man and his teenage great-grandson from a burning North Amityville home Wednesday morning, police said.

James Brown, 82, did not seem to know his Miller Avenue home was on fire when First Precinct officers Michael Maio and Adam Quinones were cutting through a firehouse parking lot across the street and spotted smoke billowing out at 8:40 a.m., police said.

They found Brown sitting on the arm of a couch, perhaps "disoriented" because heavy smoke was swirling from the ceiling to halfway down the floor, the partners said.

"He was just staring down the hallway at the location where the smoke was coming from," Maio said. "We basically said to him, 'You have to leave.' "

He did, but outside, the woman who owns the home told Quinones a teenager was in a back bedroom.

Braving the fire again, Maio went down a hallway in a crouch, shouting, "Is anybody in the house?"

Tizia Gibbs, 13, who had been sleeping, shouted back, "I can't see anything."

Telling the teenager to walk toward the sound of his voice, Maio had just eyed a burning mattress when someone speeded by -- the great-grandfather. "He came out of nowhere and passed me," said Maio, 46, an 11-year veteran of the force.

Brown was trying to get to his great-grandson, Maio said. As the officer tried to pull Brown back out, the teen appeared and all three rushed out to fresh air.

Quinones, 36, had been outside, calling in the fire and talking to the homeowner to make sure no one else was trapped.

"They were very heroic," North Amityville Fire Chief Michael Benloss said of the officers.

When 50 firefighters from five departments began arriving, the wind was blowing flames toward a neighbor's home, the chief said. "There was fire in every room upon my arrival," Benloss said.

Maio was treated for smoke inhalation at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip and released, police said. The fire appears to have been accidental, police said.

The blaze was under control shortly after 9 a.m., Benloss said, and no one else was hurt.

At the house, before it was boarded up, one of Brown's sons voiced thanks to the officers who saved his family. "I know that's your job," Dennis Brown told News 12 Long Island, "but sometimes . . . you don't want to do your job."

It's not the first time the partners braved a fire. Four years ago, they said, they and another officer helped at least three people escape a house in Copiague.

Maio said Wednesday's rescue happened so fast that there was no time to worry: "You just act without really thinking."

Both officers planned to cap 2014 with a quiet, family night.

Said Quinones: "We were just happy there's a happy ending to it." With Tania Lopez

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