MASSAPEQUA PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A few months ago CBS2 brought you the story of a firefighter suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.
Well, just this week while he was in the hospital for surgery, a fire broke out in his home and he’s now facing another battle, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported Wednesday.
Last September, CBS2 spoke with former FDNY firefighter Paul Greco and his wife, Mary Jane, about his breathing and eye sight problems due to 9/11-related illnesses.
“Right eye, nothing. I just see the light,” Greco said at the time.
Greco was one of New York’s Bravest for more than 20 years, but got sick after digging for remains at ground zero while breathing poisonous air.
On Monday morning, he went to Weill Cornell Medical Center for eye surgery and that night a fire started at the Greco’s home in Massapequa Park. They had just moved into the newly renovated home less than two months ago. The Greco’s 21-year-old son was the only one home and he got out safely.
“He’s devastated as the whole family is. He was by himself in the house and his father just went into the hospital that morning, so I’m sure his mind was on that,” family relative Jennifer Lembo said.
The Grecos have not seen the damage because they’re still at the hospital. Hsu spoke with Mary Jane Greco by phone and she said she heard the volunteer firefighters went above and beyond.
“Even after the fire was out the guys went home, changed and came back to try to help clean up the house and get as much water and any kind of items that could have been salvaged for us out of the house,” she said.
Neighbors said while the Grecos are new to the area, they had heard all about the amazing family and it was hard to watch the fire.
“It’s heartbreaking. It really is. You hope for the best for them,” Patricia Morgan said.
Many of them have reached out to the couple.
“It has been absolutely incredible, the outpouring of text messages and phone calls and everything we’ve received,” Mary Jane Greco said. “I hadn’t even met any of my neighbors yet.”
As far as what they need?
“Just prayers at this point. You know that it gets done quickly and they can get back into the house and get onto ‘a normal life,’ which they’ll never have,” Lembo said.
The Grecos say it’ll be at least 10 months of work on the house before they can move back in.
Paul Greco is recovering well from his eye surgery and may be released this weekend. The family is working on finding them temporary housing.
There has been no word yet on what caused the fire.
For more information on Paul Greco and other firefighters impacted by 9/11, please click here.