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Lynbrook Firefighters Fight Early Morning House Fire

Story & photos by  Ex Captain Steven Grogan


One Lynbrook firefighter was injured while a second firefighter nearly fell through the burning floor of a house at 104 Bixley Heath while fighting a fire early Saturday morning in Lynbrook that engulfed the basement ceiling of the home and spread up and into the first floor. 

A quick attack by Lynbrook firefighters brought the fire under control in about 30 minutes but they were there for over three hours overhauling the fire damaged home which contained much debris which had originally hampered firefighter's movements and efforts to contain the swift moving fire.

The Lynbrook Fire Department, under the command of Chief Michael Hynes, was dispatched at 3:01 AM for a report of "smoke coming from the house."  Lynbrook police officers were first on the scene and found the homeowners had escaped their burning house.   Chief Hynes, upon his arrival, broadcast a Signal 10 to all units for a working fire at that location.  Tally-Ho Company was first on the scene and took the hydrant on the corner.   They stretched a hose line as Engine Company also arrived.   Tally-Ho's line went to the side door which was the closest to the basement staircase.  Two firefighters who had originally gone down into the basement to locate the fire while the hose line was being stretched escaped quickly as the fast moving fire rolled along the basement ceiling and up the staircase behind them. 

With Tally-Ho attacking the fire in the basement staircase a second line was stretched from Tally-Ho by Hose Company members and they backed up the basement hose line.  Two more lines were then stretched from Engine Company.    One line, manned by Engine Company members, went into the front  door.  The second line, manned by Vulcan Company members, covered the second floor.   As those hose lines were being stretched, Truck Company put their ladder up to the second floor and put ground ladders around the house.   

The command post was put into operation while its towers were used to light up the scene.  The Emergency Medical Company was on hand to assist the injured.  The homeowners were looked at by medical personnel but they refused medical aid.

After firefighters first extinguished the fire in the staircase they moved down into the burning basement.  The fire was burning along the ceiling rafters and extended from one end to the other.  Although firefighters had a difficult time moving the hose line around due to the limited space and debris in the basement the fire was finally brought under control. 

While the firefighters were attacking the basement fire other firefighters were making their way on the first floor where the dining room wall was on fire.   The fire had come up from the basement behind the floor radiator.  Due to the heavy smoke coming up from the basement they could not see where they were going on the first floor.   The lead firefighter, slowly walking and feeling his way in the dark from the kitchen into the dining room, felt the floor give way under his feet and immediately backed up before it collapsed under his weight.   The intense fire burning in the basement ceiling had already burned through the first floor rafters.   As the firefighter stepped back into the kitchen the flame came up through the sinking floor.    Had the firefighter continued walking he would have fallen into the fire below.   

Firefighters were able to get into the first floor dining room through the front living room and extinguish the spreading fire in the wall before it moved up to the second floor.    Truck Company members assisted the firefighters on the hose lines by taking out the closed windows to vent the extreme heat and smoke.

One firefighter was injured with a laceration through his gloved hand.  He was transported to South Nassau Hospital by an ambulance from the Valley Stream Fire Department who responded on a mutual aid.  Additionally, Rockville Centre sent a ladder to the scene and an engine to stand-by to cover other Lynbrook alarms.  East Rockaway also stood by with a ladder and sent an ambulance to the scene.  Lakeview sent an ambulance to the scene.

Firefighters were at the house for over three hours due to the extensive amount of debris in the basement which had to be overhauled to make sure the fire was extinguished.  Chief Hynes, who commended the efforts of the volunteers said, "Their quick attack of the fast spreading fire in the basement saved the house."   He also said that had the wife not awoken to the sound of something, as she said, "popping" downstairs, they would have never survived the intense fire engulfing their home.

Chief Hynes requested the Nassau County Fire Marshal's Office to the scene to investigate the cause of the fire.  An investigator determined that the fire was most likely caused by an electric short possibly from a faulty extension cord in the basement.  Fire damaged was placed at approximately $250,000.

The house next door to 104 Bixley Heath is believed to be the house where five members of the Levy family perished in a similar early morning fire 44 years ago.   A photo taken by Lynbrook firefighter and photographer John Cribbin of firefighter Tom Ryan performing CPR on one of the fire victims appeared on the front page of the New York Daily News the following day in 1968.  The centerfold of that newspaper carried additional photos of that fire.

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02/21/17 10:06

Copyright © 2011 Lynbrook Fire Department. All rights reserved.
Revised: 21 Feb 2017 10:06:12 -0500 .



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