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Lynbrook Firefighter Saves Family from Burning House

  

Story and Photos by Ex-Captain Steve Grogan

  

At about 6:30 AM on the morning of Friday, October 27, 2006, Christopher Kelly, the First Lieutenant of Engine Company 1 of the Lynbrook Fire Department was driving on Horton Avenue from Sunrise Highway.  He had just dropped his parents off at JFK Airport and was heading back home.   As he passed the Tally-Ho firehouse he noticed smoke further down the street on the other side of Merrick Road.  He drove up the block to investigate.  At 168 Horton Avenue he found smoke pillowing out of the rear of a two family home that is opposite Concord Street and next to Bob’s Auto Body. 

 

Kelly got out of his car and ran down the side of the house and saw huge flames in a side window with heavy smoke rolling out the back of the house.  It appeared that either no one was in the house or they were totally unaware of the fire.  Kelly began to yell if anyone was home.  When he got no answer he started banging on the side door.   He also used his cell phone to call in the fire.  With the banging on the side door a man in the upstairs residence opened a window and calmly asked Kelly where the smoke was coming from.  His upstairs apartment had heavy smoke.  Kelly ordered the man out of the house.  He also asked the man if anyone lived downstairs.  He was told a mother with three children were downstairs.  Kelly ran to the front and began banging on the front door until the mother finally opened the door with the chain still on the door.  Kelly told her he was a firefighter and that her house was on fire and she had to get out.  She opened the door and let Kelly in.  Smoke was in the hallway and getting heavier.  Kelly went to one bedroom and took a baby from a crib and made his way back to the front hallway of the house grabbing a second young child as the mother grabbed the third child.  Kelly took them out of the house.  The smoke by now was chocking and getting heavier and it was difficult to breathe.  

 

Lynbrook Fire Chief Keith Festa and Assistant Chiefs Robert Occhipinti and Kevin Bien responded and a Signal 10 for a working fire was broadcast to responding units.  Tally-Ho Engine 3 from up the block was the first engine on the scene and took the hydrant opposite the house.  Firefighters then stretched two hose lines to the burning house.  Tally-Ho took the first line in through the house to the rear kitchen while Vulcan Company members who had arrived shortly after picked up the second line and brought it in.  The kitchen at the rear of the first floor was now fully involved and the fire was quickly spreading up the walls and in the ceiling to the second floor.   The fire had also broken through the outside wall and was climbing up the outside of the house.  With a quick attack on the fire in the kitchen and in the walls the fire was knocked down in about 20 minutes.  The members of Truck Company then overhauled the room and ceiling and additional pockets of fire were put out with the assistance of members from Hose Company and Engine Company who were also on the scene.  The fire was stopped and contained to the kitchen and ceiling area and there was some fire damage to the room behind the kitchen.   

 

During the height of the fire, Chief Festa requested a mutual aid from the Valley Stream Fire Department which sent a “fast team” to the scene, while Rockville Centre Fire Department sent a ladder and an ambulance to stand by at Vulcan Company quarters to cover any additional alarms in Lynbrook.  East Rockaway Fire Department also sent an engine to stand by.  Lynbrook firefighters were at the scene for just over two hours.  Members of the department’s Emergency Medical Company stood by throughout the call as there were no reported injuries to the children rescued from the house or to firefighters who fought the blaze.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.  The Village of Lynbrook’s Building Department also responded to inspect the house after firefighters took up their hose lines.  One reason that the occupants of the house did not know that the fire was raging was because the house did not have any smoke detectors. 

 

Chief Festa praised the efforts of the whole department but especially the efforts of Lieutenant Kelly.  He said, “If it had not been for Lieutenant Kelly maybe the fire would not have been discovered until it was too late for the occupants of the house.”  He also would like to remind residents how important smoke detectors are.  “If you have a home without smoke detectors please go out and purchase a few, they may save your life and those of your family,” said Chief Festa.

Additional Pictures below by Dennis Whittam

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Revised: 29 Aug 2013 06:02:14 -0500 .

 

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