Woman rescued from burning home in Wading River

(Credit: Carrie Miller)
A fire gutted a home on Dogwood Drive in Wading River Tuesday morning. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A Wading River woman and her family’s two dogs were rescued from a structure fire that “significantly” damaged a Dogwood Drive home this morning.

About 60 fire personnel from seven different departments responded to the two-story home shortly after 8:20 a.m., Wading River fire officials and Riverhead Town police said at the scene.  

The woman’s neighbor, Dawn Van Wickler, who lives across the street, said she was about to drive one of her daughters to work when she saw smoke coming out of the home, prompting her to check and see if everything was OK.

As she got closer to the home, she realized a fire was raging inside. Her daughter called 911 as Ms. Van Wickler proceeded to help get the woman and their two dogs, Kairi and Sophie, out of the home. The woman, who did not want to give her name, was the mother-in-law of one of the homeowners. She was on the second floor of the home taking care of a cat’s litter box when Ms. Van Wickler came to the rescue.

The family’s cat — Stanley, a white and gray rescue the family had just gotten last week — remains unaccounted for.

The home belongs to Johan VanDerlous and Charlene Valentino, who had lived there since 2004, Mr. VanDerlous said.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “I was working in Bridgehampton when my wife called to tell me.”

John Hogan, a retired Fire Department of New York firefighter who lives next door, also lent a hand before authorities arrived, grabbing a ladder and nearby hose and breaking a side window in an attempt to suppress the fire.

According to Wading River Fire Chief Steve McQueeney, the fire originated on the second floor, though the cause remains under investigation. By the time firefighters arrived, nobody was left in the house, which is now “a 100 percent loss,” according to Riverhead police.

Mr. McQueeney said “quite a substantial amount of damage was done to the home.”

Ms. Van Wickler said her family’s home directly across the street was damaged by a fire just five years earlier. This morning was “a complete flashback,” she said.

The Van Wickler’s are caring for the family’s dogs, Mr. VanDerlous said, adding that many of the family’s friends and neighbors have offered to let them stay with them.

He said his mother-in-law would be staying with family in Queens.

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