GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Only a charred shell remained after a home was destroyed by fire on Thursday morning.
Three people died in the blaze on Washington Avenue. Police officially did not name the victims, but did say they were a 62-year-old man, 60-year-old woman, and an 18-year-old woman.
The house had just been decorated with a Garden City Class of 2021 poster and a banner from NYU welcoming the young woman to the school of music, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.
"Unfortunately and tragically, three people lost their lives. We can confirm three fatalities in this house fire," Nassau County Assistant Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said.
The gracious brick and stucco home burst into flames just before 6 a.m., as a Long Island Rail Road employee was driving by.
"I ran up, I started screaming. No one was answering. I heard a dog bark three times," good Samaritan Joseph Morton said. "I just kicked the door in. I ran in, made it right to the staircase, and then the smoke was too bad. It was a horrible experience."
Morton said he slammed the door to contain the flames and called 911. Fire and police raced to the scene.
"We had reports of people trapped. The first arriving police officer tried to make entry kicking the door in, but was met with intense heat and smoke and driven back," Uttaro said.
Neighbors were praying the family had gotten out alive. High school students were seen consoling one another.
"When I saw that there was a house fire, you never imagine that people might actually be in the house," neighbor Samantha Jaeger said.
Kathy Ford lives across the street.
"I know the daughter. She is 18 years old. She committed to NYU for voice, I believe. The mother is lovely. She's just very genuine. She's very active in PTA, very active in the school. She is like the go-to person," Ford said.
Firefighters were redeployed to Garden City from a massive fire at a trash center in nearby Westbury.
"Filled with emotions, very sad at this time. I knew the family, some of the family. We are trying to get through it. The fire marshal did bring a chaplain to the scene. The community is suffering," Garden City Police Commissioner Kenneth Jackson said.
Officials offered a reminder to everyone to please make sure your smoke detectors and alarms are working.
The rest of the family, who were not home at the time, were still being notified that their loved ones were lost.
On Thursday night, hundreds of students attended a vigil at Garden City High School, wearing pink to pay tribute to the 18-year-old girl who died.
for more features.