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Officials: Cause of Westhampton house fire still unknown

A day after a fire swept through his

A day after a fire swept through his Westhampton home, a tearful Joseph Mangone, left, is comforted by relatives outside the home on North Quarter Road on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Mangone's wife Belinda was badly burned and three family dogs died in the blaze. Credit: John Paraskevas

Investigators continued searching for the cause of a house fire the day before in Westhampton that left a woman injured, three family dogs dead, and the North Quarter Road home severely damaged, officials said Monday.

The one-story house was charred in the Sunday afternoon blaze with the roof, floor and walls partially burned away and collapsed, authorities said.

“The fire is under investigation,” said Southampton Town Fire Marshal and lead investigator John Rankin. “We don’t have a specific cause. We have a lot of information that we have to sift through.”

Inside the one-story home, three Shih Tzu’s, Rocky, Chewbacca, and Pepper, were trapped in a bedroom and could not be saved, said resident Joseph Mangone.

“I heard them inside crying. I couldn’t get to them,” Mangone, 61, said. “I lost everything.”

His wife, Belinda, suffered third-degree burns, according to relatives.

The fire began at about 3:15 p.m. Sunday when a side of the home went up in flames, officials said.

Mangone was inside the basement of the home, along with his brother Phil, 53 — asleep in another room, relatives said.

No one was in the living room of the home, where logs burned inside the fireplace and a space heater was operational, relatives said.

Mangone said he came out of the basement, saw the fire spreading in the living room and pounded on the door of his brother’s room to wake him.

“I look up the stairwell and the flames only seemed about a foot high,” said Joseph Mangone’s brother, Phil. “I ran back to my room and grabbed a blanket. I was going to go up the stairs and see if I could do anything but by the time I got up the stairs, the flames were up to the ceiling. I knew I had to get out.”

The brothers escaped from a separate entrance leading out from the basement, they said. Mangone’s wife, who had been showering at the time, was forced to run through the flames, relatives said, and suffered third-degree burns to her arms, and back, as well as other injuries to her face and chest.

Once Mangone, his wife, and brother were outside the house, he said he tried to circle back around the home to find a way back inside to save the three dogs but it was impossible.

“I tried breaking the window because I heard them yelping,” said a sobbing Mangone. “The thing that’s giving me the nightmares is the dogs. There was nothing we could do.”

Fire departments from Westhampton Beach, East Moriches, Eastport and Quogue all arrived a short time later to put out the blaze, officials said.

First responders took Belinda Mangone to Stony Brook University Hospital where she was treated for her burns, officials said. An update on her condition was not available Monday.

With John Valenti

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