Hundreds of firefighters from West Hempstead and neighboring communities spent hours battling a five-alarm blaze in Hempstead that claimed the life a child Saturday morning.
According to Nassau County Police, the Hempstead Fire Department responded to the fire around 6:22 a.m. at an apartment building located at 9-17 St. Paul Road North.
With Hempstead's Chief Clark in-charge, 300 firefighters from Lawrence/Cedarhurst, Rockville Centre, West Hempstead, Baldwin, Uniondale, Elmont, Roosevelt, Franklin Square, South Hempstead, North Merrick, East Meadow, Mineola and North Bellmore Fire Departments fought the blaze for several hours before it was extinguished completely.
"Crews overcame a foot of snow, ice and ... frozen hydrants as well as working for almost six hours fighting this blaze," explained a spokesperson for the Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to Hempstead's mutual aid call with one engine and one ambulance to the scene.
More than 200 Hempstead residents were forced from their apartments and 11 victims were transported to area hospitals, nine of which were treated for non-life threatening injuries. One victim remains in critical condition and one victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
The identity of the deceased is being withheld pending family notification and the results of the medical examiners’ report, but according to Newsday [paid link], the victim was an 8-year-old boy.
Among those injured was a woman who suffered a heart attack, a pregnant woman and three firefighters who were injured by debris to their eyes, Clark said. Also hurt were two children that neighbors said were tossed from a third-story window, fire officials said.
The Red Cross, whose volunteers handed blankets at the scene to help keep residents warm and provided hot coffee to first responders, set up a reception center at nearby Kennedy Park Recreation Center to assist the roughly 250 people who have been displaced from their homes.
Detectives and the Nassau County Fire Marshall are deeming the fire, which originated in a third floor apartment, to be non- suspicious. The cause is undetermined at this time. This investigation is ongoing.
This story was last updated at 5:48 p.m. on Feb. 9.