Neighbor: Volunteer Michael Cosgrove Ends Up Battling Blaze At His Own Home

SELDEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A driver who allegedly was high on drugs slammed his pickup truck into a Suffolk County house belonging to a volunteer firefighter on Tuesday evening, sparking a raging fire, police said.

As CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported, witnesses said the driver couldn’t even stand up.

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“He was stumbling. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test,” said witness William Gonzalez. “Police physically cuffed him and took him to the Sixth Precinct.”

The incident took place at the home at 4 Choate Ave. in Selden at 7:14 p.m. The house and the vehicle both caught fire, Suffolk County police said in a news release.

Upon arriving, officers learned that the driver of the red pickup truck had lost control of his vehicle, and had crashed into the natural gas line leading into the home.

First came the crash, then a hissing sound followed by the explosion.

“It was a huge sound,” said witness Elysia Gonzalez. “I thought we were having an earthquake. It shook the floor.”

National Grid workers were sent to the scene to cut off the gas and cap the pipe, in an effort that was expected to take several hours.

Three people — a woman and her two children, ages 9 and 7 — were home at the time. The younger daughter was in the shower when the truck crashed through the walls.

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“She was showering and she came outside half naked to go find her mom, because she was wondering what was going on because it just happened so quickly,” Gonzalez said.

They escaped safely and were not injured, police said.

The house was well-known to the Selden Fire Department. Neighbor Nelson Ortiz said it belongs to a volunteer firefighter, Michael Cosgrove, who was on the job when the call came in — initially for the wrong address.

“But when he got closer to this house, he realized it was his address that was actually on fire, so he jumped out, he left everything out of the vehicle, and he started work, like he always does — fighting his own fire on his own house,” neighbor Nelson Ortiz said.

There were no injuries and no loss of life, but there was a shell of a house, with a pickup truck jammed inside, and family members of a firefighter watching their own house burn.

Cosgrove was named firefighter of the year last year for fighting a blaze in the same neighborhood, saving a life, but burning his own hands.

The driver – Anthony Capuano, 35, of Selden – was arrested and charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, and second-degree reckless endangerment, police said.

Capuano was to be held overnight in the Sixth Precinct police station lockup, and appear for an arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip on Wednesday.

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