NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Officials said Monday that the fatal fire that ripped through a New Hyde Park home on Sunday morning was accidental.
According to the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office, an unattended candle inside the house on North 12th Street started the blaze and the situation was compounded by a lack of working smoke detectors.
Maria Karpinski, 68, of New Hyde Park and Brooke Schillizzi, 4, of Massapequa Park died in the blaze.
It took hundreds of firefighters more than an hour to bring the flames under control, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Sunday.
Sam looked after the child until first responders arrived.
“He was crying, basically, and we saw there was some kind of bruise on his elbow and some burning,” Sam said.
“We just know that they were watching their grandkids. That’s what I know,” close family friend Chester Sloma said. “They’re such a wonderful family, such a beautiful family.”
The fire was so bad, the first crews that responded had to call for back up. When the blaze reached its height, 200 firefighters were on the scene, CBS2’s Cline-Thomas reported.
“I thought it was actually going to spread to other houses, it was so bad. We were a little concerned, but finally the firefighters got it under control,” neighbor Ernest Garvey said.
More than an hour later, the fire was out. The arson and bomb squads, along with the fire marshal, moved in. For Sloma, it was all hard to watch.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m just going to pray for them. That’s all,” Sloma said.
The house, now filled with charred debris, only begins to describe the heartache.