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84-year-old woman killed in Plainview apartment building fire, police say

Woman killed in fire at senior living complex in Plainview, N.Y.
Woman killed in fire at senior living complex in Plainview, N.Y. 01:59

PLAINVIEW, N.Y. -- Firefighters rushed to get residents out of the burning apartment complex in Nassau County on Sunday, but an 84-year-old woman didn't survive.

Police said that woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

More than 15 hours after responding to the fire at 107 Central Park Road in Plainview, firefighters returned to put out hot spots.

"I think it's frightening. We could have all gone to sleep and this thing could have traveled to another building," resident Vincent Lupo said.

Neighbors watched in disbelief, just as they did around 5 a.m., when firefighters were first called to the Harmon Shepherd Hill Apartments, a senior living complex run by the town of Oyster Bay Housing Authority.

Lupo shot video of the flames.

"A nightmare. It was really the most horrible thing I've ever seen in my life," he said.

"I looked out the corner window, and it looked like a movie from Hollywood. There was so much flames," witness Bill Mayer said.

Plainview Volunteer Fire Department First Deputy Chief Andrew Cohen was first on scene and later joined by 10 other departments. He said the fire was on the second floor and firefighters were met with challenges.

"There was heavy fire, heavy smoke, heavy heat. Cold weather played a huge factor into this. It was icy out," Cohen said.

Firefighters worked tirelessly to evacuate elderly residents.

Cohen said they found one woman unconscious, but she was breathing and alert in the ambulance.

Two more women were discovered in an apartment. A 74-year-old, who was badly burned, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The 84-year-old didn't make it out alive.

"The crews, everyone that responded, tried to get to that apartment to try and make a good effort to remove those victims. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get to one," Cohen said.

The burned building and belongings scattered out front left one neighbor heartbroken.

"I'm like, what's gonna happen to these people? Where are they gonna go? Where are they gonna live. The shock of it all, losing everything they own, the whole thing, it's devastating," Ellen Esposito said.

The Red Cross responded to offer emergency assistance to those affected. It said all impacted residents were able to find a place to stay on their own.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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