On February 21, 2012 at 7:30 AM EST (also known as Mardi Gras,), a house fire in Port Washington, NY claimed the lives of two, very sweet dogs and an elderly man. They left behind a now widowed woman, who is currently being treated for smoke inhalation. The fire was five houses down and on the opposite side of the street from mine. My father is a firefighter, and Port Washington is one of Long Island’s busiest volunteer fire departments, and when his fire scanner went off, I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t pay much attention to it. I’ve lived with that scanner for 28 years, and have learned to tune it out when I am sleeping. Sometimes it’s good thing, others not so much.
I will be perfectly honest, I ignored the horns the first two times. I hadn’t had much sleep over the weekend (I had been away and just returned two nights before), but when the 3rd alarm went off, and I heard my mom shout, “I THINK THE FIRE IS AT PETER’S HOUSE!”, I jumped out of bed, got dressed and rushed downstairs to see what was up. Thankfully, it wasn’t Peter’s house, but it WAS one of the houses next door to him.
This photo was taken with my Iphone from the inside of my house. Yes, it’s zoomed in so that you can get a good idea of how thick the smoke was. We had backup from the Manhasset Fire department.
We weren’t very close with the family in the burning house, but I knew them well enough to say hello to and exchange polite how are you conversation. Their dogs were very friendly, and loved to be pet. Lulu was 14 years old, and the other dog, who’s name I don’t know, was about six or seven years old. The elderly couple was in their 70s I believe.
I stayed in my house as I watched my dad, my uncle (Chief Geoffrey Cole), and the rest of the firefighters work effortlessly to put out that fire. It took them about three hours to put out. While I did not see any flames on the outside, the thickness of the smoke was enough to tell me just how bad the fire was on the inside. I prayed as I watched and texted my fiance Kevin, and friend Dan, who both happen to be firemen in other departments on Long Island. Dan only confirmed what I had already known….that Al (the elderly man), had suffered cardiac arrest & that his wife, Rose, was suffering from smoke inhalation.
Where was my mom during all of this? Why, she was down there on the scene with the firefighters of course. Being the kind hearted person that she is, she sat in the ambulance with Rose, and gave her her own jacket because Rose only had her pajamas on.
Port Washington may be a fairly quiet town, but unfortunately there are times when tragedy does strike. But, what are the odds of it happening twice on the same block within a two year period? About a year and a half ago, there had been another horrible fire that spread to two houses on the same side of the street as the one from yesterday. Thankfully, however, no lives were claimed on that one. That particular fire happened on the 4th of July.
I hope you all will join me and pray for Rose, Al, Lulu, and their other dog and the rest of their families.