Two-alarm Fire Burns Through Home and Two Staten Island Businesses

SILive - December 21, 2013

by Kiawana Rich

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Two firefighters were among seven people who suffered minor injuries Friday in a two-alarm blaze that burned through a two-story home in Tottenville and rendered a young couple and their upstairs relatives homeless on the cusp of Christmas.

The two firefighters were taken to Staten Island University Hospital, Prince's Bay, according to Division 8 Deputy Chief Andrew DiPadova. He said the five other people refused medical attention at the scene.

Three of the five were children related to Emanuel Conaty, 28, who lives downstairs in the rear first-floor apartment and was able to get the rest of the family -- including his mother, who also lives upstairs -- to safety.

The fire started about 4:30 p.m. at 163 Main St., said FDNY Press.

The front space of the two-story building is home to the commercial establishments DiPaolo's Barbershop and M.J. Shipments Inc.

According to DiPadova, the fire started in the rear first-floor apartment and then extended to the second floor and the attic.

"There was heavy fire and water damage," he said.

Units were on hand within a minute, said DiPadova; a total of 25 units -- 125 firefighters in all -- battled the blaze, he said.

DiPadova said the blaze was under control by 6:15 p.m.

Conaty said he was in his bedroom watching TV when the fire started -- probably in the kitchen, he said. "The cats probably tried getting something off the stove and lit something up," said Conaty, who keeps four cats and three dogs.

Conaty said that besides his mother, he rescued two nephews, 8 and 4, and a niece, 9, who also live upstairs. Neither their 6-year-old sibling nor their mother was home at the time, said Conaty's wife, Catherine Conaty.

Conaty was able to save his dogs, but said he has not been able to find his four cats.

"I had to go back three times to get my dogs out," he said. The dogs are Lilly, a boxer; Laslo, an English bulldog, and Lola, a pit bull.

Catherine Conaty arrived home to lots of fire and police on the block, as well as the burned-out remains of her home. She said everything was destroyed inside and she was distressed the fire happened so close to the holidays. She said she would likely stay with neighbors.

In addition, to the four children and Conaty's mothers, also living upstairs is Ms. Conaty's uncle. She said a fifth cat that lives upstairs is fine.

Neighbors were surprised to see the fire.

"We just saw the flames shooting up. It was about five feet high. They were very visible. It's very sad," said a resident who didn't want to give her name.

Matthew Miller, 18, who lives in the neighborhood, said, "I heard screaming and then I saw the first cop car and I saw a lot of smoke."

DiPadova said the fire did not appear suspicious and that the cause is under investigation