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Kashmira Patel killed trying to save dog from raging house fire in Herricks, New York, family says

Raging fire kills 1 in Herricks on Long Island
Raging fire kills 1 in Herricks on Long Island 02:22

HERRICKS, N.Y. -- A woman was killed and several family members were injured in an overnight fire on Long Island. 

The flames broke out around 3 a.m. Tuesday inside a split level home on Lafayette Street in Herricks.

"The flame was up to high above. It was horrifying," neighbor Judy Landow said. 

The house was filled with eight members of an extended family gathering for a funeral. Seven got out safely, but 60-year-old Kashmira Patel went back in for a beloved pet and never came out. 

"She went to get the dog. She considered her a daughter, so she went back. She actually came all the way to the door, helped her mom out of the house, and then she went back," said the victim's niece, Chush Patel.

Both she and the dog perished. Heartbroken relatives say Kashmira Patel, a devoted mom and daughter, was staying over for her father's funeral.

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They claim it took at least 20 minutes for fire engines to arrive, and the one hydrant didn't work. 

"Fire hydrants are 300 feet away from the house, so they took another while to get the water started. So by that time, as you can see, the whole house has been burned down," Chush Patel said.

Fire officials said it was a quick response by nine departments with 60 firefighters, adding one nearby hydrant failed, but did not affect response time. A live electrical wire in front of the house briefly blocked their entry.

"Both police officers and firefighters attempted to make an entry. It was untenable. The conditions were too fierce. The conditions were too far gone. They could not get into the house to go search for that missing person from the family," Chief Michael Uttaro said.

Fire officials added with a fire raging, minutes feel like hours. 

"The fire spread so quickly, so fast -- just crazy fast," said neighbor Jet Chen. "By 3:36, the whole house was gone."

The seven survivors, ages 21 into their 60s, were taken to area hospitals for minor to moderate smoke inhalation. 

The family is still trying to figure out what started the fire. The fire marshal said nothing appears suspicious.

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