NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A Suffolk County police officer and good Samaritan saved an 88-year-old disabled woman from a burning home on Long Island.
Officer Matthew Funaro saw flames and heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the home on Old Winkle Point Road in Eaton’s Neck when he arrived at the scene Wednesday afternoon.
He got into the house through a sliding door and found 88-year-old Helen Morris in her wheelchair in the living room on the first floor.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Morris had no idea the bedroom was filling with smoke and flames.
The home is on a bluff overlooking Northport Bay. It’s isolated, and almost inaccessible. An SOS call from an outside caregiver indicated that there was no heat and wires were sparking.
Funaro and 55-year-old Joseph Cartelli, who was called to the home to fix the heating, carried Morris outside to safety.
Cartelli of Kings Park said when he got to the house he saw the flames and sprung into action.
“I tried three times to put the fire out but at that point the smoke got too bad for me and I concentrated on getting her out,” Cartelli said, adding that Morris’ son and aid were disarrayed. “I had to push them a little bit to get moving.”
Funaro also ran into the choking smoke.
“When you got to the edge of the bluff coming down you could actually see the roof of the house which had smoke billowing and as you started going down the stairs in the windows you could see the flames in the second story bedroom,” he said.
Both men were worried that the roof would collapse onto the senior citizen.
“The hole was through the bed and onto the floor, and I was worried about anything coming through the floor and right on top of her,” Cartelli said.
“We were able to save a life. This was a serious fire and because of Officer Funaro and Mr. Cartelli a woman is alive today,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.
Morris, a cancer survivor, was treated for minor injuries at Huntington Hospital. Her family is filled with gratitude for the heroism shown by total strangers.
Arson detectives are investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said Helen Morris’ house is uninhabitable due to fire damage. It may have been sparked by electrical wiring.