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Wyandanch house fire leaves 11 homeless

A North Babylon firefighter works to control a

A North Babylon firefighter works to control a fast-moving fire in this house on Washington Avenue in Wyandanch. (Nov. 27, 2013) Credit: Paul Mazza

Jessica Molina was in her kitchen cooking lunch Wednesday when the fire exploded through the basement door behind her and started consuming the first floor of the house.

Thinking only of her daughter, Molina, 21, grabbed 4-month-old Amii out of her high chair and darted out the front door into a cold rain, wearing slippers, sweatpants and a T-shirt.

"I got so scared," Molina said. "Then you're by yourself outside, it's like being with nothing. Even if you have clothes on, it's like being naked, because you're seeing everything get burned down."

Four families lived in the home on Washington Avenue in Wyandanch that was ravaged by fire Wednesday, and all 11 occupants escaped to safety.

But they were left homeless on the day before Thanksgiving, and their clothing, personal belongings, wallets, cellphones and baby supplies smoldered as they stood outside and watched the house burn.

Kimberly Jean-Pierre and her colleagues at the Wyandanch Community Resource Center (WCRC) had just finished eating a Thanksgiving potluck meal when Jean-Pierre noticed the smoke from the fire a few blocks away. She drove to Washington Avenue, where she started taking some of the displaced residents back to the resource center to get out of the cold.

Molina, the only resident of the house who speaks fluent English, spent the rest of the day translating between American Red Cross staff, WCRC staff and her housemates. She and her husband and daughter have a place to spend Thanksgiving, with family in Amityville. But some have no place to go for the holiday.

As her family and housemates prepared to head for the hotel Wednesday night, Molina, wearing a donated olive-green coat a few sizes too big, said she's still in shock.

"Usually, when you go to your family's house for the holiday you have somewhere to go home to afterward," she said.

Two families have been set up with hotel rooms in Farmingdale, and two found other arrangements, the Red Cross said.

Wyandanch fire officials could not be reached.

Jean-Pierre, who became executive director of the WCRC in August, said she'll find a way for the other fire victims to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal Thursday.

"This could happen to anyone of us," she said.

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