A 63-year-old blind man died from injuries caused by a fire inside a home on Redbird Place in the R&R Mobile Home Park late Friday night, according to police and a friend of the man.
The name of the man has not been released while police attempt to contact his next of kin.
The man was a friend of homeowner Anthony Latasso, 58, who lives at 18 Redbird Place with his 28-year-old son, John.
John Latasso said Saturday that he didn’t know the exact cause of the fire, but he said the man liked to smoke a pipe in bed, which he lit with wooden matches.
The younger Latasso said he woke up to his father yelling at around midnight after entering the victim’s bedroom and finding his friend on fire and standing in the doorway.
“My father tore his clothes off,” John Latasso said. The father and son then took the victim outside of the trailer, where they waited for emergency services to arrive.
Anthony Latasso was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center and treated for third-degree burns that he received on his hands, his son said.
John Latasso said that while his father was outside with the victim, he filled the bath tub with water and used a small garbage can to transport water over to the bedroom to put out the flames. He said the victim’s bedroom was the only section of the trailer damaged.
John Latasso said his father lived with the victim for about 11 years and they were lifelong friends.
“I considered him as my uncle,” John Latasso said. “He’s known me since I was born.”
Riverhead Police said in a press release issued Saturday morning that the fire was contained to the man’s bedding. They said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The fire was called in at 11:46 p.m. Friday night and a Suffolk County Medevac Helicopter landing zone was set up by Riverhead Fire Department at the nearby Department of Motor Vehicles parking. The man was flown to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Tim Gannon contributed reporting.