Four Long Beach firefighters sustained non-life threatening injuries after a ceiling in a Lido Beach home collapsed on them during an early morning fire Friday.
According to Nassau County detectives, Fourth Precinct police officers responded to a residence on Blackheath Road for a house fire at about 5 a.m. and on arrival found it fully engulfed. Long Beach, Point Lookout-Lido, Oceanside, Island Park, and Freeport fire departments responded with 150 firefighters and 17 pieces of apparatus to extinguished the fire, police said. The home was unoccupied and sustained extensive damage, police said.
According to police, two Long Beach firefighters sustained non-life threatening injuries and were transported to local hospitals for treatment. One firefighter with burns was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, and a second firefighter with back and neck injuries was transported to Long Beach Medical Center. Two other firefighters, including Long Beach Assistant Fire Chief Antonio Cuevas, suffered burns but did not require hospital treatment.
Cuevas said the Long Beach Fire Department was the first department on the scene after receiving a call from a Cleveland Avenue resident reporting smoke in the East End neighborhood.
“But we found a house fully involved in fire,” Cuevas said about the home on Blackheath, a street on the border of Lido Beach and Long Beach. “We upgraded it to a general alarm and it just happened to be in our neighboring district so we took it in and notified Point Lookout-Lido. It was a joint operation.”
Initially there was a report that children and their grandmother were in the house, Cuevas said, and after finding no sign of people on the first floor he and his fellow firefighters pressed upstairs and the ceiling collapsed.
“As we got to the top of the stairs the ceiling gave way … and dropped right on top of us,” Cuevas said, noting this was when he and the other firefighters sustained their burns and injuries. An air conditioner in the attic fell and hit one firefighter in the head and neck.
The firefighters went back downstairs, regrouped and went back upstairs. “We were all banged up and bruised but we went back in and continued the job,” Cuevas said. “...We were not going to stop until we were 100 percent sure that there was nobody in there.”
Firefighters contained the fire within about an hour, he said. While Nassau County Fire Marshall is investigating the fire, Cuevas said that it appeared to be electrical and started on the first floor.
* This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. on July 20, 2012.