Neighbors Pitch In to Help Fire Victims

Relief fund set up at local bank.

In this season of giving, Long Beach neighbors are pitching in to assist the occupants of an East Pine Street home that burned to the ground Wednesday.

A fast-moving fire gutted the two-family home at 419 East Pine St. at around 4 p.m., apparently caused by a Christmas tree that was engulfed in flames shortly after it was plugged in, according to relatives of the victims. The blaze is under investigation.

All of the possessions of the occupants, Howie Poplinger and his girlfriend, Anna Patino, were destroyed in the fire, including their clothes and all the Christmas gifts that were wrapped under the tree. Patino escaped with minor injuries, but her two pets, a dog and a cat, perished in the blaze.

Three upstairs tenants who were home also managed to escape relatively unscathed. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

“The house was engulfed in flames,” said Steven Imperato, Patino’s son-in-law. “They lost everything.”

He said the Red Cross immediately helped out by giving them a $600 debit card so they could buy clothes and food. Patino is now staying with her daughter in Island Park.  

Immediately after the fire, neighbors from blocks around offered to help, asking if they needed food or shelter. “When we were out there, cars were passing by with local people asking how they could help,” said Imperato, who lived in the upstairs apartment from 2002-07 before moving to Plainview.

“She [Patino] is so amazed about what everyone is doing for them that she almost passed out,” said Imperato. “The community has really come through, offering food, a place to stay and to pay for a hotel room.”

In addition, Bob Gentry, who has known Patino for about 40 years, has established a relief fund for them, setting it up on Thursday at Citibank, at 135 East Park Ave., asking that all checks be made out to the disaster fund in Poplinger’s name. Anyone who wishes to donate can call Gentry for more information at (413) 824-4645.

“It’s about people helping people,” said Gentry, who recently moved from Massachusetts to Staten Island, but grew up with Patino in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “It’s about people coming together in this holiday season and showing that they have a heart. People should band together when someone has a problem.

“The victims are very warm-hearted,” he added. “Anna has one of the biggest hearts there is.”

Gentry said he is also considering getting in touch with a few musicians to possibly do a benefit concert for the fire victims.

Patino’s daughter Francesca stayed with her when her home became flooded during Hurricane Irene and now Patino is staying with her daughter while her home is rebuilt, hopefully sometime around mid-spring, Imperato said. The daughter’s flood-damaged home was fixed about two weeks ago, he said.

“I just want to thank everyone, including the firemen who did a wonderful job,” Imperato said. “And Bob Gentry, he’s just a great guy.”


desiree eso December 23, 2011 at 06:25 PM
My name is desiree eso, I am one of the four not three tenants whome resided in upper apartment of 419 east pine street. We all walked away with nothing this is such a tragic moment in our lives . Thank god we all made it out alive especially Lisa Farley whom jumped 12 feet after throwing my dog (baby from the porch) Please repspond with how I can contact longbeach patch .
Rory December 23, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Desiree, I am sorry for your loss. According to the info at the bottom of the page it is best to contact the editor directly, josephk@patch.com. Be well.
Marina December 26, 2011 at 11:45 PM
As an insurance agent, I wanted to point out that the homeowners policy will cover the owner for the loss to the building and personal items lost as well as paying for a hotel and meals eaten out while repairs are made. I hope that the tenants are the recipients of any funds collected as the landlord's insurance does not cover their contents nor their additional living expenses while displaced.
anna patino December 27, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Hi Marina, My name is Anna and I lived in the house with my boyfriend Howie...he is the owner of the house....our insurance has lapsed due to a miscommunication with bank in the mist of a loan modification so we are in the same boat...I am living with my daughter...I love my tenants they were with me for 3 1/2 years and they were like family...I will do what ever I can to help them...they are constantly in my thoughts.
laocoon December 27, 2011 at 09:51 PM
..."insurance has lapsed due to a miscommunication with bank"... Here we go...
Patron On Ice December 28, 2011 at 01:07 AM
@laocoon whats that mean cmon you should know when it's time for insurance to pay us as customers theres always a claus and bullshit. but it will all be situated in due time
laocoon December 31, 2011 at 10:07 PM
It means another "woe is me I am a victim" tale of irresponsibility.
Patron On Ice January 01, 2012 at 07:54 PM
@laocoon you are an asshole looki in the mirror and realize no one gives a shit about you woe is me i am a victim... if you ever see me on the street yes you will be a victim. IF YOU HAVE NOTHING NICE TO SAY SHUT THE FUCK UP end of story. You have no life and maybe your house should burn down and you loose everything.
True Colors Shining Through January 01, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Patron on Ice: Although I would truly love to see it happen, Iacoon (one person who uses several names, both male and female, on the Patch) appears to be a no-character coward who would never confront you on the street.


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